Provo’s tallest buildings reach new heights

The past four decades have introduced the five tallest buildings in Provo. These buildings may not compare in height to skyscrapers in larger metropolitan areas, but they are identifiable structures in Provo’s urban landscape.

As of October 2016, the five tallest buildings in Provo are the Spencer W. Kimball Tower, Novell Corporate Headquarters, One Nu Skin Plaza, Zions Bank Financial Center and the Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. But the Utah Valley Hospital is expanding, and one of its new buildings will be taller than the Kimball Tower.

The Kimball Tower has ranked as the tallest building in Provo since its completion in 1981. The 12-story tower is dedicated to the late President Spencer W. Kimball and stands at 162 feet. It houses classrooms and administrative offices for BYU’s College of Nursing and College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.

University archivist Cory Nimer works with records and photographs pertaining to BYU’s history, including aerial photographs documenting the BYU campus’s transformation from the 1920s. Although the Kimball Tower makes a late appearance in these photos, Nimer said, its height and central location have made it a landmark for the university and community.

“I am always impressed seeing the growth and change in campus facilities,” Nimer said. “Brigham Young University has come a long way since its founding.”

As former BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland described it, “The towering, prophetic stature of Spencer W. Kimball will be forever in our thoughts and our hearts as we view this towering structure on campus, a veritable beacon of light, visible by day and by night throughout the length and breadth of this valley.”

After 35 years, the Kimball Tower remains the tallest building on the BYU campus; however, it only has a couple more years as the tallest structure in Provo.

The Utah Valley Hospital is currently undertaking a replacement project that
will result in two new buildings. The nine-story outpatient building will open in November 2017 and stand at 155 feet. The 12-story patient tower will be 209 feet tall — surpassing the Kimball Tower in height by almost 50 feet — when it is completed in September 2018.

Construction manager Josh Rohatinsky said the project’s purpose was to replace aging facilities and plan for the future of population growth.

“Being in such an established location in Provo, we don’t have the opportunity to move out more,” Rohatinsky said. “This hospital campus is very tight and when you’re dealing with a small footprint, the only way to go is up.”

Construction details for the Utah Valley Hospital Replacement Project can be found online. 

Nimer said the Provo skyline will continue to expand as it grows to accommodate the population and needs of the community.

“In the end, change is inevitable, and I am sure that the transformation of Provo and the university campus will continue as both progress,” Nimer said. “Here in the archives, we will continue to preserve documentation of these changes for future researchers.”

Kennedy Center’s oldest study abroad continues drawing large numbers

More people apply to the London Centre than any other Kennedy Center study abroad, and up to 164 students go on this program every year.

The London Centre study abroad, established in 1977, is the longest-running program offered through International Study Programs. The Jerusalem Center is not a Kennedy Center program, but it is the oldest running study abroad offered at BYU.

BYU international study programs director Lynn Elliott said the London Centre was under construction from mid-2013 to May 2014 for remodeling. It formally reopened in June 2014.

“The intent of the renovation was to keep the spirit and look of the building, but to update it,” Elliott said.

Remodeled areas included heating and mechanical elements, student living spaces and faculty apartments. The center also added an outside garden patio.

The London Centre, two adjoining three-story Victorian townhouses, is located on a quiet street in an exclusive neighborhood. It’s just north of Kensington Palace, and it’s also close to Hyde Park, Portobello Road and three Tube stops.

Mortensen, a senior studying English, attended the Summer 2016 London Centre program.

“As an English major, I studied so many of the texts and always wanted to see all the things I read about in person,” Mortensen said. “You learn about historical events and then your homework is to go see the things we learned in person.”

During the Summer 2016 term, the program offered courses on national identity, British literature and British history. These courses don’t require prerequisites and fulfill general education requirements for most students.

“They’re really good about trying to get general classes, not just for English majors,” Mortensen said. “The diversity is great in the classes.”

Mortensen said the London Centre is popular not only because it appeals to all majors but also because of what the city has to offer.

“By going to London you’ve traveled the world,” Mortensen said. “You see statues from the Parthenon, art museums with Picassos and Van Gogh — there’s just so much culture in one city.”

Public relations sophomore Regan Crandall also attended the London Centre in summer 2016. She studied there for seven weeks with about 40 other students.

Along with taking classes and studying, they traveled to various locations throughout England.

“We took a one-week trip up to the north of England,” Crandall said. “We traveled to the Lake District, went to Oxford and traveled all around England. It was probably one of the highlights of the program.”

International relations senior Jacob Nielsen is currently studying abroad at the London Centre.

“I think that the London Centre offers both diversity and familiarity for students at the same time,” Nielsen said in an email. “They get to experience life in a fast-paced, extremely modern and diverse city that also doubles as a very historical city.”

Nielsen also said people choose to come to London because it’s safe, English-speaking and more familiar than other parts of the world.

Elliott shared what makes BYU’s study abroad programs stand out among other programs.

“We try hard to make sure that BYU’s international programs meet the learning objective and mission statement of BYU,” Elliott said. “Students who go on BYU programs are going to have a BYU experience abroad.”

BYUSA’s proposal to relocate Memorial Hall is an ongoing discussion

ROTC leaders and university administration have met to discuss BYUSA’s recent proposal to relocate Memorial Hall from its current position on the east side of the Wilkinson Student Center to a multipurpose room nearby.

The proposed relocation sparked concern among ROTC members and alumni who feared moving the Hall into a multipurpose room would disrupt the reverence and respect owed to fallen BYU veterans whose names are on the walls.

Since the initial discovery of the relocation proposal, Lt. Col. Chip Cook, Maj. Ben Snell and Veterans Club president John Rhoden have voiced their concerns to the university.

“We were approached for feedback by the BYUSA and faculty advisors and had a couple meetings with them,” Cook said. “We talked to folks at the vice president level of the university, and they’re supportive of the concerns that the alumni and veterans have voiced in the last couple days.”

Cook said this has shown the university administration’s dedication to supporting the ROTC program and alumni.

“While an initial conversation may not have been viewed favorably, the senior administration understands and supports the ROTC and alumni, particularly those names on the wall,” Cook said.

University spokesperson Carri Jenkins said the considered relocation of Memorial Hall is part of a larger discussion regarding student use of the Wilkinson Student Center.

 “The Memorial Wall is an important part of our campus and carries deep meaning for many in our community,” Jenkins said in an email. “The spaces that have been proposed are open and accessible to the public and the entire campus community. In fact, the proposed spaces would allow more exposure to the Memorial Wall honoring our fallen soldiers.”

One question that came up was how the current space would be used under the proposed plan. BYUSA leaders conducted surveys and found students want a place where they can go for meditative purposes.

“The room where the Memorial Wall is now located is one space under consideration where students could go to for silent meditation,” Jenkins said. “However, no decisions have been made, and discussions are ongoing.”

Shaylee Watkins is one of the individuals who started an online petition to preserve the Hall in its current location.

Watkins said in an email she loves BYU and “hopes this action is seen as students exercising their right to have their voices be heard.”

Man on Wheels

J.T. Watts is not your average 79-year-old. He’s fast, fearless, and a bit of a daredevil. A rollerblade enthusiast, Watts can be found reaching high speeds around the local greenbelt in Blackfoot, Idaho. Within the timeframe of 12 years he’s skated an astonishing distance of 8000 miles, a third of the circumference of the entire earth. Best part is, he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Watts put on his first pair of rollerblades after his youngest daughter badgered him into it. He is living proof that even the greatest skaters have a rough start. “The first time I rollerbladed I fell four times, bloodied my elbows, skinned both palms, and ruined a new pair of jeans,” said Watts. The injuries don’t stop there. The following week, he was out rollerblading with his daughter when they approached a steep hill. Being the confident man that he is, he hesitated for only a second before taking it on full speed. Before he could make it to the bottom, he crashed and ended up severely injuring his wrist. “I had to wait about six weeks, but after that I started rollerblading again!” said Watts.

He’s fallen many more times after that; however, he never fails to get back up. “It’s amazing to see someone skating at his age,” said Kendall Armstrong, a 20 year-old college student and fellow rollerblader. “You can tell he’s got passion. He just keeps going!”

Over the years, Watts has filled out five journals tracking every mile he’s covered. He skates an average of 10 to 20 miles a day, with 50 miles being the record. He’s also written down the different experiences that came with each venture. From being bit by dogs, racing Corvettes, outpacing people half his age, and skating through miles of road construction, Watts has done it all.

“At first, I was a little nervous to see him rollerblade at his age,” said Anne Watts, J.T.’s wife. “But I noticed that he’s happy when he skates and that’s all that matters.” For Watts, rollerblading is more than just a hobby. He claims it is the reason why he is still here today. “Rollerblading saved my life. I remember this one time when I couldn’t skate for more than half a mile before running out of breath. I knew something wasn’t right,” said Watts. He immediately went to the doctor and an examination led to a triple bypass open-heart surgery. Luckily for Watts, the surgery was successful. “Rollerblading definitely saved me from a having a heart attack and possibly death. It keeps me healthy and it keeps me going,” said Watts. “I just love it. It’s one of my greatest passions in life.”

Watts doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Even with the odds stacked against him, whether it is his health, the weather, or age, he plans on skating until he reaches his new goal of 12,000 miles. “Age isn’t going to stop me from skating halfway around the world!“ said Watts.