Temple Square's newest addition came in 2000 when work was completed on the Conference Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is now believed to be the largest religious and theater auditorium in the world.
Although the Conference Center is used primarily for religious services, including the Mormon Church's annual and semiannual General Conference in April and October respectively, it was also designed to be used for cultural and artistic shows of all kinds. It regularly hosts musical and dance concerts. During renovation of the Tabernacle on Temple Square, it is home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's weekly broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, to which the public is invited free each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Free organ recitals are offered Monday-Saturday from 12:05 noon to 12:35 p.m. and Sundays from 2:05 p.m. to 2:35 p.m.
Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recognized the need for a large meeting center as more and more church members sought to attend General Conferences in the cramped and aging Tabernacle. He announced the Conference Center during a session of General Conference in 1996, and construction began the next year. Hinckley dedicated the building in October 2000, although it had already been in use for six months. Today the Conference Center serves well the expanding needs of the fast-growing Mormon Church and the Salt Lake City region.
The Conference Center is truly a feat of engineering. It contains a 21,000-seat auditorium with a 7,667-pipe organ and no visible support beams, plus a 900-seat proscenium-style theater and 1,300 parking spaces below the building on four levels. It also boasts four acres of landscaped roof with trees, an alpine meadow of grasses and wildflowers, fountains, and a waterfall. The main support beam for the Conference Center weighs 621 tons, and the electrical wiring is over 50,000 miles in total length. Despite squeezing all of this into an area equaling less than a square city block, the structure exceeds building code requirements for withstanding seismic forces in the event of an earthquake.
Located directly north of the Salt Lake Temple, the massive structure is open for free guided tours daily 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Visitors can also tour the garden roof of Conference Center Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. or Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The tours meet inside Door 15. The Conference Center is often home to interesting events, so guests should consider calling (800) 240-0075 for information before visiting.
More information about the Conference Center can be found at www.templesquare.com.