Photos: Scot Pacer Proctor and Gate Precast Co.

“The level of craftsmanship that could be achieved using precast versus stone saved this project a tremendous amount of money, time, and energy.”

Wanda Lau


Religious Structures

Kansas City Temple

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Although similar in size to other religious structures created for religious structures The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the new temple in Kansas City, Mo. offers unique design and detailing. These qualities were especially noticeable in the architectural precast concrete panels used to clad the exterior. They incorporated an olive-branch motif throughout the design and feature details and stepping for corners, cornices, and windows.

Situated on an east-west axis, the structure consists of three above-grade levels for patron use and a basement for mechanical systems. Windows were used generously and feature decorative art glass that highlights the olive-branch emblem. Landscaping is complemented by planters embedded in the precast concrete walls along the entrance plazas.

“The level of craftsmanship that could be achieved using precast versus stone saved this project a tremendous amount of money, time, and energy,” says Wanda Lau, a member of the buildings awards jury, “but the quality of the project is still amazing. From the articulation of details to the placement of joints and the use of the olive branch motif that occurs throughout the building, we were impressed.”

The detailed pieces included three cornice details, recessed and arched window openings, compound steps at the corner of the buildings, fringe details, and lettering cast in the panels. The two spires at the building’s roof were created by connecting three levels of precast concrete panels.

The olive-branch detail was created in 88 panels. The original sculpture was carved by hand, and then pliable rubber molds were made from it. Multiple negatives were created and placed in molds at desired angles to achieve the proper appearance. Lettering was also cast into panels to identify the building and express its religious importance.

Due to the complexity of the project, the precaster, architect, and contractor held preconstruction design meetings. Online coordination meetings were held weekly, and the project was modeled using three-dimensional (3-D) building information management software to assist with conflict resolution. The 3-D modeling also allowed the precaster to relay questions or problems more clearly to the design team.

Two finishes were used for the 406 panels, which included glitter sand in their concrete mix. A medium sandblast was used as the predominant finish, but acid etching was applied as a secondary finish for contrast.

“This project is an excellent example of precast concrete’s versatility,” says Tom Brock, a member of the buildings awards jury. “This church has a very distinctive character to it. The precast panels allowed the architects to create large sections of the building and minimize the number of joints, so from a distance it reads as a stone building, but the closer you get, the more abstract that surface gets. I wish we would see more of this type of use of the material.”

Location: Kansas City, Mo.
Owner: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah
Architect: FFKR Architects, Salt Lake City, Utah,
Structural engineer: ARW Engineers, Ogden, Utah
Contractor: JE Dunn Construction Co., Kansas City, Mo.
Precaster: Gate Precast Co., Ashland City, Tenn.,
Project size: 32,000 ft2 (3,000 m2)