Provo’s Missionary Training Center Expansion Is Nicer than Your House, and You Can Tour It
Long in the works, an expansion to the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be open to the public from July 31 through August 19, 2017.
The MTC had suffered from overcrowding even before Church President Thomas S. Monson announced in 2012 a drop in the minimum missionary age from 19 to 18 for men and 21 to 19 for women. The resulting surge packed the MTC beyond capacity, even forcing missionaries to reside in nearby BYU-owned married housing. In addition, the Church closed a high school in Mexico City that was converted to another MTC.
In 2012, the Church abandoned an effort to build a 9-story tower on the existing MTC property, largely due to concerns from residents of the nearby Pleasant View neighborhood that the 160-foot building would be an eyesore. Additionally, many residents stated that the Church had made a gentlemen’s agreement with the residents of the neighborhood 40 years ago to limit the height of any MTC buildings abutting the residential area.
After passing on another option to expand the MTC into the fields adjacent to the Provo Utah Temple, planners opted to tear down Brigham Young University’s laundry facility and maintenance building near University and 900 East, just south of the main MTC campus, and construct two new classroom buildings, a large square, and a new dropoff area for when missionaries are unceremoniously left at the front door. (Sorry, still bitter about that one even though I got the full family meeting treatment on mine.)
The new classrooms, at six stories apiece, represent the very best in modern pedagogical architecture, replete with updated technology (we assume HDMI is boldly in the mix, but no word on 4K televisions). In addition, with missionary health increasingly at the forefront of leaders’ minds, designers installed large, prominent stairways to dissuade elevator use and increase the exercise level of missionaries using the facility.
Most renderings and recent photos show reasonably large classrooms instead of the comparatively tight ones used on the original MTC campus. For the record, my MTC group would have filled only half of these spaces, and don’t tell me we would have wanted to learn Spanish alongside those pesky South America-bound missionaries just to fill seats. Never! ¡Castellano de pura cepa!
According to the Mormon Newsroom, the buildings feature outdoor space and underground parking to align with Provo City zoning requirements. The new buildings will allow the training of an additional 3,700 missionaries at any given time. Also, the buildings appear to be right along the street, thus allowing missionaries to escape at any given time.
The MTC’s next reported project will be tearing down some of the older central buildings in favor of updated edifices, but no plans or timetable have been released for that project.
Open house tickets will be available starting July 10 at the excellently named subdomain mtcopenhouse.lds.org, which could also read as “Mt. Copen House”—presumably some sort of Bretton Woods-esque location—or even better, it’s an anagram away from being McKayCoppins.lds.org, which is a subdomain the Church desperately needs.