The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has new plans for the corner of North Temple and Main Street: a five-story, 250,000-square-foot Church History Library and archives vault.
The library, to be built on the northeast corner of the intersection where a 272-space parking lot currently sits, will be open to the public, the church announced Wednesday. The facility will mostly be used by a small number of historians, scholars and officials.
“This is not intended to be a high-impact facility that will bring a lot of people to the area,” LDS Church attorney Alan Sullivan told a gathering of Capitol Hill residents at the neighborhood’s community council meeting Wednesday evening.
But several residents said they were worried the reduction in parking would further exacerbate their ongoing problem of small residential streets being clogged with parked cars, especially during the church’s semiannual general conferences.
They said the problem has grown dramatically since the LDS Church built its large conference center at the same intersection, directly west of the site for the new library, despite the church’s assurances that parking studies had been done. The residents now worry that with the church’s plans to renovate the downtown malls in the area, parking will be a nightmare for years to come.
But Bill Williams, the church’s director of architecture and engineering, said the current plans ensure parking will be available above and beyond city requirements. He promised the church will create interim parking plans to handle parking during construction and emphasized that the current church history library, in the LDS Church Office Building, sees only about a dozen visitors a day.
The library will use new technology and the increased space to preserve church records, including manuscripts, publications, photographs and audiovisual items, the church said in its announcement. The current collections include 3.5 million manuscripts, 210,000 publications, 100,000 photographs and 50,000 audiovisual productions.
The new library will include general-use reading rooms and a special collections area so church members and visitors can stop by to peruse the church’s history. In a news release, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and the church’s historian and recorder, said the library “will be a welcome resource for those who wish to learn more about Latter-day Saint history.”
Plans for the building were intended to help it blend in with the look and feel of the intersection, which is just north of the church’s Main Street Plaza and the Temple Square plaza. Williams said the design was meant to be a scaled-back, subtle building that will not feel too bulky or overwhelming. He said a three-story glass entry will “act like a lantern to the community.”
“We think it will add considerably to the neighborhood,” he said.
He said the new facility will have a feel similar to the Main Street Plaza area, with open space and a “pocket park” with “the same kind of character” as Temple Square.
The building was designed by MHTN Architects, a Salt Lake-based firm. Construction will begin in the fall and is expected to be finished in late 2007.