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PROVO - Sweden-born Gerd Sjokvist attended Brigham Young University in the late 1970s and early '80s.
After seeing the new Joseph F. Smith Building on Tuesday, she wishes she still were enrolled.
"It's like being in the courtyard of a palace," Sjokvist said as she listened to a student choir sing at BYU's newest building. "I just wish I was a student here again so I could work and study here."
On Tuesday, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the stylish new home of BYU's two largest colleges during a morning devotional at a packed Marriott Center.
Hinckley spoke of the life and words of Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the new building's namesake.
Joseph F. Smith was the son of Hyrum Smith, who was murdered in 1844 along with his brother, LDS Church founder Joseph Smith.
"I am the 15th [president], and I feel like a pigmy when I think of standing in the same circle with him," Hinckley said. "It is proper that this wonderful new building carry the name of this remarkable man."
The 280,000-square-foot home of the College of Humanities and the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences is built on the site of the old Joseph F. Smith Family Living Center directly west of BYU's Harold B. Lee Library.
It has 25 classrooms - including two futuristic rooms on the lower level that can rotate to become part of a larger lecture hall - and can accommodate 1,400 students.
A large inner courtyard reminiscent of medieval and Renaissance styles, an extravagant glass facade on the east side and a large spiral staircase are the most striking elements of the dynamic structure.
"From listening to President Hinckley speak of the life of Joseph F. Smith, it seemed to me there is life in this building," said BYU graduate Emily Call. "It represents more than just the name of Joseph F. Smith."
Hinckley paid tribute to the sixth LDS president for his doctrinal understanding and his vigor for "true education."
He said the learning Smith spoke of is the kind church leaders hope is imparted at BYU.
Quoting Smith, Hinckley said, "The mere stuffing of the mind with a knowledge of facts is not education. The mind must not only possess a knowledge of truth, but the soul must revere it, cherish it, love it as a priceless gem; and this human life must be guided and shaped by it in order to fulfill its destiny."
Hinckley was joined by his counselors in the church's ruling First Presidency, James E. Faust and Thomas S. Monson, as well as five members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
"I was surprised when I saw how many leaders were there," said BYU senior Meg Schmidt. "Obviously, this is a very important building."