The new 1,500,000 square foot Conference Center is a unique building in countless ways – both in its design and construction! The LDS Church wanted a facility that would last 150 years. That meant designing a structure that would not only meet but vastly exceed the 1994 Uniform Building Code in which Salt Lake City is designated in a seismic Zone 3.
The Conference Center has won numerous national and international architectural and structural design awards. The concepts and design of the Conference Center landscaping is certainly a site to behold. It was designed by Olin Partnership of Philadelphia and executed by American Landscape, Inc., of North Salt Lake. The rooftop garden is self-maintaining with minimal maintenance while using fifty percent less water than normal landscapes use. American Landscape installed over 20,000 cu. yds. of Utelite E-Soil, a sub-drainage system, roof and plaza deck drains, a free anchor system, an irrigation system, and all plants and foliage which included over 1,300 trees, 1,450 shrubs, and 27,000 bulbs. The overall landscaping of the building is impressive to say the least.
The plants used for the Conference Center are very different from those used around Temple Square. There are no annual plants – only woody and herbaceous perennials, with various trees and shrubs. The rooftop garden is essentially a Utah mountain. The North slopes contain messic or moisture loving plants, whereas the South facing slopes have the xeric or more drought tolerant plants such as juniper and sagebrush. A portion of the flattop roof garden represents a high mountain meadow. Two longtime forest ecologists were brought in and helped formulate the planting that would be used for the meadow. In all, seven different microenvironments were identified; over twenty-one varieties of wild grasses were used; and, three hundred varieties of wild flowers were employed.
According to Peter Lassiq, Head Gardener for the LDS Church, “After all is said and done, topsoil is not available on today’s market. The topsoil that is available now isn’t a very dependable variety. It might be sandy, silty, or it may be clay. Topsoil really isn’t dependable anymore; so, we went with Utelite E-Soil. Utelite E-Soil works the same as regular soil, but better, because it doesn’t have weeds. It doesn’t have morning glory, diseases or insects in it. It really comes out clean.” The Utelite E-Soil mixture for the LDS church is approximately 50% Utelite and 50% peat moss.
Structural lightweight concrete was used extensively to lighten the dead load and help solve the design and seismic demands placed on the structure. In the roof system 15,000 cubic yards of 4,000 and 6,000 psi lightweight concrete weighing 110 lb/ft3 were used. In the wall systems, 120,000 lightweight concrete masonry units, with a maximum weight of 28 lbs. per 8 x 8 x 16-inch unit, were used. The CMU’s were manufactured by Amcor Masonry Products and installed by B&T Masonry.