Friday, May 13, 2011

Temple Materials - Brick

This is another installment on temple materials.  This time we are discussing brick.

You might ask what my opinion is on brick.  As a building material I hate it.  As an architectural material, I often like it.  I hate it as a building material because it is brittle, heavy, and hard to reinforce (sometimes impossible).  This is really bad if you are in an area with seismic concerns.  Brick also can look less permanent than stone, but it often looks enduring.  I actually like the temples that use brick.

The temple endowment was first given in the upper assembly room of Joseph Smith's red brick store in Nauvoo, Illinois.  Joseph realized that the temple wouldn't be completed before his death so he gave the ordinances to a select few there.  Because of this, brick temples can remind us of where the ordinances were first given.

Original plans for the Salt Lake Temple called for it to be made from adobe, a kind of brick.  This seems odd, as Brigham Young saw the temple in vision. You would think he would have insisted on the granite it was later built out of.  Well, the adobe used at the time was apparently the same grey color as the temple, which makes his vision make sense.  In this case, I am glad granite was chosen.

Johannesburg South Africa Temple
The Johannesburg South Africa Temple was the first completed out of brick.  It is made of brown brick and is one of the six spire sloped roof temples.  I think the brick gives it an 80s look, but not in a bad way.  The brick (a veneer really) is carefully laid and gives a very orderly, nice, neat look.  I also like how the white spires springing from their brick bases seem all the whiter next to brown brick.

Vernal Utah Temple
The Vernal Utah Temple and Copenhagen Denmark Temple are both made out of brick, and both are remodeled from existing structures - Vernal was an old tabernacle and Copenhagen was an old chapel.  I like how both of them are red, making them uniquely colored temples and reminding us of Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store.  The Vernal Temple has yellow-orange stone details around the windows and doors.
Copenhagen Denmark Temple
The Copenhagen Denmark Temple has a very orderly, stately look.  It is quite simple and reminds me of the Temple of Solomon.  I like that the red brick makes the light columns stand out.  I also like how the red in these temples can remind us of Christ and his sacrifice for us.

Other temples have brick beneath the surface such as the London England Temple which, according to is made of reinforced concrete on a structural steel skeleton with brick walls covered in white Portland limestone.

Although not brick, other temples use CMU (Concrete masonry units) which are better known as cinder block.  I used to have a bad impressing of CMU; however, they are a good building material.  In most cases they should be stuccoed or otherwise covered for aesthetic reasons.  I understand that the Twin Falls Temple is CMU with precast concrete panels covering the exterior.  The Hamilton New Zealand Temple is also CMU and apparently just painted.  I think a few others are CMU, particularly temples built in the 1970s and 1980s.  In most, if not all, of these cases the CMU is covered with stone, stucco, or some other material.  To be clear, CMU is not brick.  Brick is clay masonry.  CMU is concrete masonry.  Stone masonry also exists and is what the pioneer temples are made out of.

I like that a few temples are made out of brick.  I like the variety.  Still, I hope this material is only occasionally used.  Given the current history of brick in temples, it will probably be very rarely used and mainly used when a building is remodeled into a temple.


Anonymous said...

The Twin Falls Temple is made of structural steel and reinforced concrete, not CMU. But I do believe that the Freiberg Germany Temple is made of CMU, although says it's brick.

Scott said...

The Twin Falls Temple definitely has CMU shear walls. It also has steel and yes, it has a precast concrete shell. I talked with people involved in its construction and they told me it is CMU.

Mfundo Radebe said...

I love the Johannesburg temple.... Too cool. Maybe they could add some granite during renovation