Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Portland Oregon Temple

For any of you who didn't notice, I've updated some of my earlier posts with new images.

Portland Oregon Temple
The Portland Oregon Temple is one of my absolute favorite temples.   This LDS Temple was completed in 1989. I've been to the grounds twice and inside once (the other time was a Sunday so it was closed).   The Portland Temple is modern, detailed, ornate, sleek, bright, rich, original, symbolic, and spiritual.

For those of you who have not been there, it is just off of a freeway (and visible from the freeway) yet the grounds feel secluded due to the dense forest.  Its use of the six spire sloped roof style of temples.  This brings with it priesthood symbolism with the three towers on the west representing the Aaronic Priesthood and its presidency of a bishop and two counselors.  The eastern three towers represent the Melchizedek Priesthood and its presidency, either a stake presidency composed of three presidents or the First Presidency of the church composed of the prophet and his two counselors, all presidents.  The temple is covered in the same symbols that are found on the Salt Lake Temple - representations of the earth, moon, sun, and stars in stone, on the spires, and on the doors.

The Portland Temple spires were intentionally sculpted so they would compliment the forest that fills the grounds.  The spires are essentially made of a series of pointed arches that taper in as they go up.  On the east spires there are stars all over the spires while on the west side no stars are present.  The spires are made of white fiberglass and work well against the brilliant white marble stone that coats the main body of the temple.

The sloped roof of the temple is a nice green slate which helps the structure match the evergreen forest that covers the grounds.

The doors of the temple are done in a nice dark wood.  Symbolic stars are carved into the doors.  The same white stone and dark wood that are found on the temple exterior also run throughout the temple.  The contrast between the two, and the richness of both, makes this temple strikingly beautiful.

Upon entering the temple, you notice an atrium filled with natural light and lush vegetation.  This atrium is open to the public.  To see other atriums, click here.

Inside or outside the temple you might notice the walls glowing.  This is because there are actually windows made of stone cut so thin that it is translucent.  If you look at this picture closely you'll notice that you can see the sun stones illuminated from within the temple.  When I was there, I noticed the earth stones glowing when I was in the downstairs chapel.

Portland Oregon Temple Baptismal Font
Unfortunately, I have not seen the baptistery.  I do have this picture of it and I have been to the Las Vegas Nevada Temple's baptistery which is really similar.  In the photo you can see the stone windows.  I also love the glass used on the railings.  It has a design etched in it and similar glass is used throughout the temple.  I also notice that the floor has a nice design which appears to either be the Star of David or the Seal of Melchizedek.

One unique feature of this temple are the triangular staircases.  These are either in or next to the spires.  These staircases are different from normal staircases because you go up a flight of stairs, step onto a landing, turn 300 degrees, go up a flight, step onto a landing, turn 300 degrees, and so on.  In this way the staircase is triangular (or perhaps hexagonal if you want to include the landing).  I really liked this as it made the temple feel like a special building and not just any architecture.  It also showed creativity.  In addition, the number 3 is filled with symbolism - particularly about God and the Godhead.

Portland Oregon Temple Endowment Room
The endowment rooms are special.  They have the dark wood mentioned earlier.  The wood has a bright gold pattern on it that really stands out.  The grains in the woodwork are also laid out so they form a diamond pattern, something that must have been carefully planned out and shows skill.  The altar is made of the rich dark wood with gold accents.  The shapes on the altar echo the small domes found on the temple exterior and help to tie the architecture together.  The room also feels different from the world due to its orientation.  The room is approximately square, but the altar, screen, and focus is set on a corner of the room.  The seating is also oriented with the rows of seats on either side of the aisle at 90 degrees to each other.  Finally, the altar and veil are on a raised platform that is sectioned off with a small wood barrier that makes it feel extra special.  By the way, this picture doesn't do the room any justice.

Portland Oregon Temple Celestial Room
Going from the endowment room you enter a cross shaped room between the four endowment rooms.  Following one of the legs of the cross leads you into one of the most spectacular celestial rooms ever envisioned.  As you enter the room you are actually walking beneath a staircase that leads to a mezzanine level of the room.  The room is richly decorated and includes gold colored tapestries covering the stone windows along two walls.  This room is also set at an angle and the two walls covered in tapestries are the east facade on the temple exterior.  The gold tapestries contrast nicely with the brilliant white stone.  The tapestries also get thinner as they go up until at the top all you can see is the brilliant white stone windows and any light glowing through them.  This wonderfully represents the eternal progression found in the celestial kingdom.  A small sealing room can be accessed directly off the celestial room and is actually in the east center tower of the temple.  The celestial room also has three bright brass chandeliers that shine with a gold color.  They are virtually identical to the chandelier in the remodeled Logan Temple celestial room, although they are brighter and golder and they work very well in this room.  Modern sconces are found on the columns along the wall with the tapestries and add a lot of class to the room.

Portland Oregon Temple Celestial Room Staircase
If you decide to venture up the staircase, you will get to see some more features of the celestial room.  The stair railing includes glass panels with an etched pattern in them.  This keeps the room light and airy.  The mezzanine level above provides nice views of the chandeliers.  Seating is also present on this upper level.  The multilevel nature of this celestial room reminds us that in the celestial kingdom there are multiple degrees of glory.  A door leads from the mezzanine level to a number of sealing rooms , perhaps to remind us that to attain the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom we must be married eternally through the sealing ordinance.

The temple's special chapel, which is essentially a temple assembly hall, is also found off the celestial room mezzanine.  This keeps with the common pattern of having priesthood assembly halls on the top level of temples.  The ceiling of the room follows the slope of the roof.  It must be nice to attend a special temple meeting in this upper room of the temple, especially in the late afternoon on a clear day when the sun would make the stone windows glow.  In that event you would see the sun stones at the top of each window.

The Portland Oregon Temple is one of the six spire sloped roof temples, but it is different than most with a unique floor plan.  It is also a lot larger than most other six spire sloped roof temples.  The spires are far, far more detailed and the symbolism is more advanced than in most other six spire sloped roof temples.  The floor plan of the Portland Oregon Temple was altered slightly and used for Las Vegas Nevada Temple, another one of my favorites and the only example of the six spire sloped roof temple style that can compare to the Portland Temple.  If you have been in a six spire sloped roof temple, but not Portland or Las Vegas, don't think you know what those two are like.  These temples are different.  Although I like the other six spire sloped roof temples, the Portland Oregon Temple is the gem of the style.  If you get the chance I highly recommend that you visit this temple.  Even if you aren't a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it would still be worthwhile just to see the atrium, the beautiful grounds, and the exterior architecture.

I'm not sure why they only built two temples with this floor plan as it truly is a spectacular style, but I am so glad that they made this temple, and that they used its floor plan for the Las Vegas Nevada Temple.

If you know more about this temple, please comment.  You can also comment if you have questions or just want to point out something that you liked.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I served my mission in Portland and I quickly fell in love with this temple, especially the celestial room. When we went I always went up to the second level so I could look over the whole celestial room. That room really feels like heaven to me. I was also privileged to attend a zone temple day and we had a meeting in the upstairs assembly room. Thanks for the picture of that.

Scott said...

If anyone wants to know, the black and white photos of the interior come from a 1993 The Friend magazine article and a 1993 Liahona magazine article.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Portland Temple is one of the best designed Temples in the church. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the Las Vegas Temple when I visited it, having already been to Portland. Las Vegas has some nice features, but I really missed the stairway in the Celestial Room and the 3rd Floor altogether. The interior decorating seems more cohesive in Portland as well. There was a little too much pink for my taste in Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...

It may be good to do a quick list of Temple Baptisteries that have full-size oxen. The picture of Portland's baptistry made me think of it. I know of Portland, Salt Lake, and San Diego. Do you know of any others? It seems to be somewhat of a rarity.

Tolman said...

I don't have any supporting documents for what I am about to say, but my brother is an architect who used to work for the architect of the Portland Temple. According to my brother, the church wanted to build a similar temple to the ones in Boise, Chicago, etc. but he told them that that wasn't going to fly here. So he made a number of revisions. Having been to the Boise Temple as well, I would have to say that they were all for the best.

Before moving here to Portland I always thought that it was just another ugly sloped roof temple--yes this is what I always thought of those types, having grown up in the Idaho Falls area. Then while on my mission, I had a companion from Vancouver, WA who would always brag about it. I would always just ignore him. Then one day I saw a picture of it from the North, and I couldn't hardly believe that it was the same temple that I had seen from the East. Now that I live here I love it. Almost every time I go I have to take pictures. It really is amazing, and unbelievably quiet despite being a literal stone's throw away from the freeway.

Scott said...

Do you mean full oxen? Must are full sized, but many are missing the back half.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I was referring to full oxen.

Ammon said...

We just moved to Vancouver WA, and are getting used to this Temple, everytime my wife and I go we find more and more things that we love about it. My wife is from San Diego and we were married in the San Diego Temple so we love the multi-level Celestial room.

One of the first things I noticed about the Portland Temple when we walked around our first time there is that it doesn't have any windows at all. It wasn't until reading your blog that I realized that it is just thinly cut stone so thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the Assembly Hall; I have attended a couple of meetings in that room. The most interesting one was in the late '90s when the temple President invited stakes in the district to send people on the weekends to do sessions all night long. I began my temple experience in that room singing hymns and listening to a couple of talks in the Assembly Hall, then we did a midnight session. It was a different feeling leaving the temple at 2am.

Recently I attended that temple again (I have moved to Alaska and cannot attend there as much as I would like). I decided I would let the temple (as in the building) preach me a sermon, as the Anchorage temple has very little symbolism compared to the older, larger temples. Oh my, what a sermon I got.

Thanks for your article. I appreciate the insights you had to share.

Unknown said...

One thing you are missing is looking at the Aerial view of the Temple. You will notice some interesting geometry and how the temple is laid out. The west base of the triangle there is a water fountain on the east there is a reflection pool and at the north, eye of providence and above that...

Anonymous said...

I'm a full time employee at the temple.The landscaping and grounds without equal.The lust greenery as only the wet climate can provide brings out contrasting colors like a garden of eden

daveandsteph said...

Another small thing that my wife pointed out to me (I'll have to look the next time I'm there) is that the very bottom of the temple exterior is green instead of white. This gives the illusion that the temple is floating.