For 35 years, Church Office Building has been symbolic Mormon headquarters, operational center for church growth

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  • 70s style
    April 6, 2010 7:50 p.m.

    Okay. It's 70s style. Yes, it was built in the 70s. And at the time, it was the most significant building in town in size and investment - by a long shot. Everyone needs some perspective. It's a functional building that has served well as the article says. The World Trade Center wasn't a lot different, except much taller and in NYC. They were an icon, yet there was no redeeming architectural beauty to them other than size and redundancy. Welcome back to the 70s.

    Enjoy the building for what it is. You want to build something more grand or more ornate or more stylish, then go for it. The whiners in Salt Lake amaze me. The Conference Center and the new buildings going up show the continued evolution in architectural design in the U.S. and in SLC. In 30 years, someone will probably complain that they are far too turn of the century and ornate for their tastes.

  • Sean
    April 2, 2010 4:05 p.m.

    The building looks like it belongs in East Berlin in 1966. Horrible.

  • Thomas
    April 2, 2010 10:32 a.m.

    I'd like to commend the wonderful guides who guides us tourists. They are worth lots of attention. We had both laughs and tears during our short visit. A building is just a building, it's the people in the building that makes this building to one of the best places in the world :-)

  • Zadruga Guy
    April 2, 2010 7:26 a.m.

    @I think ...

    The Church has Area Office facilities in Europe and Australia that are adequate to the needs that are there. True, the Church is experiencing rapid growth in parts of the world, but Europe and Australia are not those parts.

    In Australia, the Area Offices are located what used to be a private school. They thus have a lot of charm. The adjacent temple is built on what used to be the athletic grounds of that school. The main building of the school, Buckland House, is now used as the principal building of the Area Offices campus -- it is the building where the General Authority offices are located. Other buildings of the former school are used for overflow offices that did not fit into the main building or for housing, such as the former headmaster's home now used by the temple president as his home.

  • Style
    April 1, 2010 6:15 p.m.

    It doesn't really "fit" with the surrounding buildings...then again, the Hotel Utah, Beehive House and Temple don't really resonate with one another. The Conference Center ties in with the granite but otherwise is dissimilar to the Temple.
    The COB speaks to a utilitarian church with an eye to durability. It meets those standards well.
    I recall the Gen Library across from First Security Bank before the move.
    It is convenient for visitors who have business with various departments.
    Downtown Salt Lake is not a planned community, folks. You can't really do that over 150 years.

  • I think...
    April 1, 2010 5:41 p.m.

    the church should have other highrise buildings in Australia and Europe to keep up with the fast growth of its membership worldwide...

  • Chris
    April 1, 2010 5:21 p.m.

    To Dean @ 3:50pm: It's called a feature story. True, it's not hard-hitting news, but it does hold a certain amount of interest to much of the population of Deseret News readers, especially on its 35th anniversary. It looks as though you don't read newspapers much - online or otherwise - if you don't recognize that not everything published is a brand new event or development. Or, you're just trying to find fault.

  • Anonymous
    April 1, 2010 4:43 p.m.

    Most people are unaware of the underground walkways that cover temple square, the conference center, The Joseph Smith building. They are there for the security of the General Authorities. They have been there since the temple was built.

  • Jann
    April 1, 2010 4:20 p.m.

    The COB does have a '70's look to it but who cares? It has served its purpose very well and it was alot more cost efficent to build it and house all the entities of the church that it could. I love looking west to the temple from the COB. It is very beautiful. Id love to come back to UT and visit all of the sites downtown, but I live way to far away.

  • Dean
    April 1, 2010 3:50 p.m.

    How exactly is this "NEWS"??

    All the while I was reading Bishop Burton repeatedly say how the building has served well, I was expecting an announcement that it would be torn down and replaced...

    Now THAT would be NEWS!

    Until then, don't waste our time with such rubbish.

  • Young
    April 1, 2010 3:00 p.m.

    Yes the money is sacred, but that doesn't mean that the money is scarce or that Zion is a middle-class, average society.

    This is literally the Kingdom of God restored to the earth for the last time, as President Hinckley always said. And that means, as George Q. Cannon said, that we will be the greatest civilization that ever inhabited the planet. B.Y. said that the people of the earth would bring their riches to us to manage.

    Christ taught Peter that money isn't ever an issue when you can get money out of the mouths of fish.

    Great civilizations have great architecture. The prophet's visions have never been "just get by" - they've always been ambitious and expansive.

    We may have been in a growing and learning stage when we built the COB, but then let's openly admit it and not try to claim that what we did there was more than a provincial effort.

    Hinckley pushed us to do projects as challenging for us as the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle were to Brigham Young's people. And for it we got the Conference Center, hardly a conservative scarcity-mindful ediface.

  • Poqui
    April 1, 2010 2:27 p.m.

    @Denver Reader/ 11:36 a.m.
    I have worked in the building for years and have never felt it sway. The very windy conditions we just the last few days had made the interior walls creak as the outside walls moved with the wind but I could not feel it... I wish it swayed like a Lagoon ride. It would make work a lot more exciting!

    And btw, the East winds hardly hit the COB because Parley's canyon is 12 miles away and faces WSW so the winds from it don't reach downtown.

  • Beauty, rumors.
    April 1, 2010 2:09 p.m.

    As a child I was awed by skyscrapers in large cities my family visited, and every time I pass the Church "High-Rise" I feel that same awe and thrill. Of course, I also like the Ogden Temple's design, so take that for what it's worth.

    As for the rumors (here goes my credibility) I am sure I've always heard that no building could rise higher than the State Capitol. Any truth to that? I would like it to be true. I'd rather see the view of the mountains than buildings.

  • Monsieur le prof
    April 1, 2010 1:19 p.m.

    I think the COB is quite nice-looking. The Church is very careful about how it handles sacred monies. It is not involved in winning architectural beauty contests, but rather with serving the needs of students (as at BYU) or the administration of the Church. I can't imagine how the building could have been made more beautiful without looking gaudy.

  • SimplySaid
    April 1, 2010 12:55 p.m.

    Do the naysayer commenters to all the LDS-related articles realize how predictable they are? Because the 1970's era building appears plain to current eyes, they call it "ugly" and express surprise that the church didn't make it more "appealing". If the church had built with a more "church-like" style, the naysayers would be criticizing the church for being extragavant. Your predictability is hilarious and immature.

    Also, no one denies that it is a "corporation" which has to manage money issues. Every church has to. Even Jesus had one disciple "hold the purse" and manage the funds needed for his small following. So, was Jesus' corporation "evil" because they had to deal with the money issues of a religious group? Get real...

    By the way, I moved to Utah in the 1980 and while I've never spent real time inside the building I've always found it attractive enough and still efficient for the LDS church to use for it's management needs. Congratulations on 35 years birthday!

  • Denver Reader
    April 1, 2010 11:36 a.m.

    The COB is a fun building to be in when the wind blows out of East and Parley's Canyons. The sway is rather fun. Almost like a Lagoon ride. Wild times!

  • Young
    April 1, 2010 11:32 a.m.

    Folks, architecture really matters. It speaks to its viewers and sends a message. For example, one of the purposeful design characteristics of the conference center is its sizing. As big as the hall is, the lobby was designed and partitioned to be human size, and the exterior was 'cut up' to human approachable sections and dimensions. This was by design to bring the building down to the individual, rather than be an looming, unapproachable mount.

    We all know that the general church in Salt Lake has struggled with provincialism, so it should be no surprise that the architecture of the past shows signs of it too.

    But let's not remain so sheltered to compare the church administration building to the great architectural works in the world, or to even praise the building's architecture, because it isn't even a close call. The COB is a pretty large dog of a building, marring the otherwise rather nice set of other buildings around Temple Square.

  • A Fool and His Money Soon Go
    April 1, 2010 11:05 a.m.

    To Fuma,

    Seriously? You own CitiBank stock? Wow! I don't want to tell you how to invest your money, but maybe its time to change brokers.

  • @Earthquake
    April 1, 2010 11:02 a.m.

    I don't want to throw a wet blanket on your beliefs, but it is, in fact, just a building. Temples have been destroyed in the past, including the Samoa temple, which was fairly recent. The faith lies in the people, not in buildings.

  • Mormon Myths
    April 1, 2010 10:57 a.m.

    The whole elevator in the SLC Temple is another Mormon Myth.

    The Myth goes something like this. The builders had no idea why, but Brigham Young wanted large spaces, unused spaces in the towers of the Salt Lake Temple and hollow channels running through the granite walls. Years later, the large space was used for installing an elevator and the channels were used for electrical wiring.

    Was Brigham Young inspired to do this? No, because this legend is not true.

    First off, Mormon pioneers were not unaware of the industrial and technological advantages of the nineteenth century. Temple architect, Truman O. Angell Sr. went on a fact-finding mission to England and France in 1856, learning about all technological advances. For example, the Palace of Versailles had an elevator installed in 1743 and a New York department store had a five-story elevator in 1857. In 1837 the telegraph became operational in England and the United States and in 1857, electrical street lights were installed in Lyons, France.

  • Elevators
    April 1, 2010 10:55 a.m.

    were around before the Salt Lake LDS Temple was built . Stop with the myths OK?

  • The Deuce
    April 1, 2010 10:53 a.m.

    First, to - The Duece | 8:51 a.m. April 1, 2010 - you are an imposter.
    Second, to Doug C. | 10:16 a.m. April 1, 2010 - if thats all it takes for you to change your religion I would say get on with it because you may encounter more "dirty looks" in life. No sense dropping out of church at this point, you may consider dropping out of alot of activities you are in. Why do people in Utah continue to try and drag down the LDS church for any reason they can find. As a visitor to Utah for skiing trips, I enjoy seeing some of these landmarks. I am not of the LDS faith but can never figure out why so many in Utah have such a problem with the LDS Church. Either fix your family relationships or move out of the state. Don't blame this church for your problems.

  • Re: Oh, Yes
    April 1, 2010 10:48 a.m.

    I also remember working custodial there many years ago (starting with the first group in 1972). The original shifts were 6-10 and 10-2 a.m. with that late shift to allow cleaning the genealogical library, which didn't close until 10:00 p.m.

    Later they shifted to 5-9 and 9-1. I spent many Saturdays on the waxing crews as well. Last time I was there-the floors still looked pretty good!

    People can argue endlessly about whether it was "beautiful"-but it's highly functional and many aspects (such as the heating and cooling) were well ahead of their time. One of my favorite things was the internal power generation capability-I was there a couple of times during state wide power blockouts-and we just kept "plugging" along like nothing was happening.

  • FuMa
    April 1, 2010 10:41 a.m.

    Really Doug C. Really? You would change religions because the LDS Church security wouldn't let you meet a performer or because there are places in the COB that they don't allow you to go? Sounds like a very legitimate reason to change religions. lol whatever. Just like any corporate head quarters or church head quarters there are simply places that the general public or even member of the church or share holders of the corporation aren't allowed to go. I own stock in CitiBank, I'm sure they won't let me in a lot of places in their headquarters, but it doesn't mean I'm going to sell my stock for that reason. DUH!

  • Gosh Doug
    April 1, 2010 10:39 a.m.

    WOW! You've really opened my eyes! I, too, base my spiritual beliefs on the practices of low-ranking private security officers. Maybe we should get together and form our own church.

  • FuMa
    April 1, 2010 10:28 a.m.

    @ lilljemalm to curious: You are correct on the fact that the Wells Fargo Building on 300 S and Main is currently the tallest from street level, yet only has 26 floors, the floor heights have increased in commercial office buildings since the COB was built. As for the towers in City Creek Center. The residential tower on the corner of S and W Temple will be 33 floors however it will only be the 3rd tallest building in the city, behind Wells Fargo and the COB. Again more floors, but residential structures are built with shorter floor heights than commercial. There is simply just a proposal for a mixed use building on the corner of State and 100 S that could possibly be the tallest building in SLC. As for banks not lending due to seismic reasons, I am going to have to disagree. Market forces have caused the majority of these buildings to not be built, they estimated a demand and initiated a proposal, however when they pursued funding they couldn't quantify the demand in order to secure funding. Other have been due to developers going bankrupt.

  • Anonymous
    April 1, 2010 10:23 a.m.

    Anonymous 9:53: Perhaps the buildings at BYU are built for the purpose of education and not for the purpose of "looking beautiful" to the outside world. After all the purpose of BYU is to educate. Not everyone thinks you have to put millions into the outside of buildings to impress others.

  • No More Myths
    April 1, 2010 10:21 a.m.

    To Earthquake,

    The elevator shaft in the SLC Temple has been debunked over and over. Just google Mormon Myths and the elevator shaft. Just trying to inform you of the truth.

  • Doug C.
    April 1, 2010 10:16 a.m.

    I have heard rumors, especially in Gospel Doctrine Class, that there are certain places in the Church Office Building where we can't go because of Church Security Restrictions; so tell me who is in charge, The First Presidency or Church Security, in other words, has the First Presidency decided to allow Church Security to run the Church? Why don't Church Security Officers mind their own business; the reason for this comment is because, last year, at the Mormon Tab Choir Christmas Concert, I asked if I could meet one of the performers and was politely told "No", plus When I changed my seat to sit close to aisle, a Church Security Officer gave me a dirty look. I might consider changing my religion, or let's just say that I am thinking about it.

  • Earthquake
    April 1, 2010 10:06 a.m.

    I don't mean to be so blunt or bold but I do believe the Lord would take care of the building in case of an earthquake. Of course things need to be done on our end in order for the Lord to do his but I believe with revelation they could of took that into consideration. Much like the Salt Lake Temple and building an elevator shaft for some reason, no one knew what it was for other than it needed to be built. Pretty amazing and comforting......

  • Anonymous
    April 1, 2010 9:53 a.m.

    Wouldn't it be great if the Church invested a little time, money and effort in the buildings at BYU? Most are simply awful.

  • jenna
    April 1, 2010 9:51 a.m.

    I would give anything to be able to stroll around the power tower, invisible, for a few hours and see what goes on behind all the doors. Not expecting anything shocking, but it would just be very interesting.

  • Sorry, but it is ugly
    April 1, 2010 9:51 a.m.

    I think the building detracts from the beauty of Temple Square. I can't imagine the Catholics building something like this at the Vatican. But I also can't imagine them building the Vatican Shopping Mall.

    Priorities, I guess.

  • Just a building...
    April 1, 2010 9:47 a.m.

    Certainly those with ties to it have great memories.

    But really, is it a "BEAUTIFUL" building?

    I think not. It's actually rather plain and non-interesting. The grounds around it are spectacular. The Temple is spectacular. The Capital is spectacular, but like most of BYU Campus buildings...yuck, ugly and sad.

  • Anonymous
    April 1, 2010 9:25 a.m.

    The church needs to update the building by tearing it down and build a new one. The building doesn't fit in with temple square or city creek. It's 1970's architecture which reminds me of the soviet union.

  • Anonymous
    April 1, 2010 9:09 a.m.

    The Church does operate many of its functions as a Corporation in order to meet legal and reporting requirements.

    This doesn't change anything about its purpose or mission. Much good is done, some publicly, and much anonymously. Operating within the law requires some aspects of the Church's operation to be organized that way.

    No big mystery of cause for alarm or criticism.

  • ITs a Boring building
    April 1, 2010 9:03 a.m.

    But maybe the LDS Chruch is getting better architecture with the Conference Center which in my opinion is a very beautiful bldg. The COB could be any boring structure that houses a corporation, which it is .

  • Earthquake
    April 1, 2010 8:53 a.m.

    I do worry about its ability to withstand a major earthquake. The state capitol recently worked on bolstering that structure in preparation for earthquake. Are any such expenditures planned for the Church Office Building?

  • The Duece
    April 1, 2010 8:51 a.m.

    What a beautiful building. In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic.

  • Employee
    April 1, 2010 8:44 a.m.

    When I came to work here in 1977, most of the General Authorities were house on the 19th floor and the First Presidency had moved to the 25th floor--just prior to the completion of the 47 East South Temple building restoration. Shortly thereafter, all of the General Authorities moved over to 47 East and those hallowed halls were once again used as General Authority offices. The building was still new and contained a lot of very 70's design and decoration. Wonderful times.

  • Ernest T. Bass
    April 1, 2010 8:44 a.m.

    So many blessings, even rich blessings have come from that building.

  • Re: Anon @ 7:59
    April 1, 2010 8:42 a.m.

    LOL anon. Truly it IS a corporation to a certain extent. Hence the name: Corporation of the Presiding Bishopric. What amazes me is that here is a church who isn't in the red because it uses sound financial practices, and folks like you will cry and whine about it and say it "screams big business"? I wonder what it is that makes you so angry about these buildings? The fact that they belong to a church, or the idea that you have that churches should be small buildings in size? I am racking my brain trying to remember anywhere in the scriptures where it says anaything about sizes of buildings, or numbers of them?
    Maybe you could enlighten us a bit more on how this building is going against anything God ever taught?

  • lilljemalm to curious
    April 1, 2010 8:36 a.m.

    The church office building is not the tallest building in the city - that honor goes to Wells Fargo 3 or 4 blocks to the south. Buildings in the new City Creek Center will also be taller - and taller than Wells Fargo. The rumor you've heard is some story that was made up by sources unknown. It's never been the case that there has been a rule that the LDS office building had to be the tallest in the city. SLC, however, has had numerous proposed projects for buildings over 40 stories killed, however - all by bankers who wouldn't finance them. Due to the valley floor soil conditions and the onerous seismic codes (that are necessary), it becomes very expensive to build much over 35 stories in SLC.

  • Ray. D.
    April 1, 2010 8:23 a.m.

    The rumor that no building can be built higher than the Church Office building is just that -- a rumor. I believe the Utah building is taller than the Church Office building, but it sits further downhill, so it doesn't appear to be as tall.

    It's expensive to build large, tall buildings. Heating and air conditioning costs go up exponentially as the building gets taller. That drives up the cost per square foot for any potential leaser. Also, there's no shortage of land, thanks to the RDA, so it's more cost-effective to only build to a certain height in Salt Lake City.

  • Anonymous
    April 1, 2010 8:20 a.m.

    Curious, it is not true. There are no regulations that state that.

  • Oh, yes
    April 1, 2010 8:13 a.m.

    I remember working the evening shifts either from 5-9pm or 9-1 pm as a custodian. I remember being on the buffing crew and working weekends to "strip" the wax and put on new wax.

    Working there as a custodian was very fulfilling indeed.

    One Monday evening, I was told to go up to the 26th floor (observation deck) and help clean up after a banquet. (This Monday was right after a General Conference) I went to the proscribed place and was told to wait until the guests had all departed. As I was waiting, President Kimball came out of the banquet room and went to the elevator lobby, where I was waiting, he looked and me, stretched forth his hand, taking mine, looking me in the eyes and complimented me, and the rest of the crew for keeping the building so beautiful.

    What a thrill for a 17 year old kid...

  • Anon
    April 1, 2010 7:59 a.m.

    It may be beautiful, It may be functional, but to many of us it screams Corporation, Big Business, and elite power tower.

  • Missionary
    April 1, 2010 7:49 a.m.

    I entered the "Mission Home" across the street in September of 1973. During the one week stay there (prior to going to the LTM in Provo) we ate all of our meals in the Church Office Building cafeteria. I wasn't aware that the building wasn't dedicated until 1975. Thank you for this interesting and informative article.

  • re:CP
    April 1, 2010 7:31 a.m.


    Happy Birthday to your mom! I'm sure she wishes she was here with you and your family, but what great memories you have to hold on to. It's nice how many memories can flood back into our minds as we see certain landmarks. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


  • Doug G
    April 1, 2010 7:11 a.m.

    It's not a business like building. It's a corporate HQ.

  • Curious
    April 1, 2010 6:33 a.m.

    I've heard rumors that no other building can soar higher than the church office building, limiting SLC's skyline. Is this true?

  • Memories
    April 1, 2010 6:10 a.m.

    When my wife and I came to Utah back in 1975 to be married and sealed in the Manti Temple I had the pleasure of coming to SLC to get my patriachal blessing from Patriarch Eldred G. Smith at the Church Office Building. A very wonderful experience.

  • nomads4ever
    April 1, 2010 4:29 a.m.

    I remember as a new father delivering building materials for the construction, and amazed at the amount of concrete being used. It is truely a magnificent building, both inside as well as outside.

  • CP
    April 1, 2010 2:43 a.m.

    This beautiful building has many wonderful memories for me. My mother was working there at the time of her death and when I was alot younger I used to walk from high school and go to her office at the Church Office Bldg and visit with her until it was time for her to go home so I could have a ride home. Then after I got married and had a couple of children we used to have lunch with her in the Church Office cafeteria. What wonderful memories this great building has for would have been my mother's 69th b-day...

  • Curious in SoJo
    March 31, 2010 10:41 p.m.

    The building is now 35 years old, and by all accounts has served well for those 35 years, but what does the church expect of it going forward? Will it continue to suffice for a church that continues to grow across the world, or does the church plan to adapt/expand beyond the Church Office Building?

  • Great Construction..
    March 31, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    This building was built using pre-stressed concrete from Buehner Block, a state of the art technique at the time which has allowed it to wear so well over the years.

  • Anonymous
    March 31, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    ....ONE OF US!

  • Anonymous
    March 31, 2010 8:01 p.m.

    Is there another business-like building that has such an open and inviting lobby? It really is a remarkable design by forward thinking people.

  • Thank you!
    March 31, 2010 6:48 p.m.

    I love this Church. I love the good that comes into my life as I live its teachings. It is wonderful for all who will live it! Just watched a video of Gordon B Hinckley tonight. A model of good and faith as is his successor, President Monson. Thank you for pointing all to Christ. Thank you for your examples of righteousness and selflessness.