Sunday, September 18, 2011

The New Two-Spire Temple Style

I love seeing the new renderings for LDS Temples.  This week the press leaked the rendering of the Payson Utah Temple (the church confirmed that this is indeed the temple rendering, but that it wasn't supposed to be released until next month).  The church also broke ground on the Trujillo Peru Temple and Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple this week.  Pictures can be seen here, or later in this post for Philadelphia.

The Payson Temple looks like it may be a modified version of the Draper Utah and Gilbert Arizona Temples, but it could be unique.  The Trujillo Peru Temple is clearly the same style as the Cordoba Argentina and Phoenix Arizona Temples.  Then there is the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple which is one of the new two-spire style temples along with the Kansas City Missouri Temple, Brigham City Utah Temple, Rome Italy Temple and at least one other temple that hasn't had its design publicly revealed.  As a refresher, here are renderings of these 4 temples:

Kansas City Missouri Temple Rendering

Brigham City Utah Temple Rendering

Rome Italy Temple Rendering

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple Rendering
The main element that ties all of these temples together is the use of two spires to represent the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods.  Many Mormon temples have used either two spires, or two sets of three spires to represent the Priesthoods.  It is nice to see this symbolism returning to temples.

I think this new style of temple is distinctly Mormon and iconic.  These temples are taller with 3-4 stories in addition to a basement.  Their shape accentuates their height, as do the twin spires.  I like the vertical soaring nature of these temples.  The first two make good use of detailed architectural precast concrete while Rome and Philadelphia appear to use stone.  Either way, the detailing is done well.

I like how the Kansas City Missouri Temple and Rome Italy Temple are both modern.  Rome seems more modern with its numerous curves, sleek design, and cutaway spire.  I think this was a good choice as Rome is so overwhelmed with classical and other architecture that it would have been difficult for the temple to stand out (in a good way) and not look contrived with classical or neoclassical architecture.  The Kansas City Temple, on the other hand, has a modern and somewhat simple exterior, but uses traditional pyramidal spires in addition to arches to visually link it to the Salt Lake and other pioneer temples.  This is fitting as it is being built where a lot of early church history occurred.

The Brigham City Utah Temple is obviously meant to look like a pioneer style temple.  The church has stated that it is a mix between the Salt Lake Temple, St. George Temple, Logan Temple, and Manti Temple.  This helps it fit in with the Box Elder Tabernacle across the street and with the history of the area.  At the same time, if you look at the temple closely you'll notice that it is a modern interpretation of the pioneer style.  Precast concrete is used.  Also, the way the spires taper, concrete details are recessed, and other elements of the building are shaped, are very modern.  Crenelations have been replaced by recessed triangles in the concrete panels.  The buttressing, although present, is somewhat subdued.  So I see the Brigham City Temple as a successful blend of the historic pioneer style temples and present day architecture.

The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple is now the most classical (really neo-classical) of these temples (or any for that matter).  It looks like it could easily be 200 years old, and not like a modern take on a 200 year old building.  This appears to be intentional.  It helps the temple fit in a very historical city.  In the rendering you can see that the temple borrows elements from the building across the street (I think a court building).  It will also fit in with a nearby Catholic cathedral and other architecture in the area.  The spires should seem familiar.  They definitely fit in with spires in the city.  I can see that the architects have obviously borrowed elements from the spire of Independence Hall, also in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were written and signed and where the Liberty Bell once hung.

I love the fine details of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple, and look forward to seeing them in more detail.  I love the fluted columns with Corinthian capitals (I hope they are unique capitals).  I like the mixture or rectangular and cylindrical columns and the clustering of columns at the front.  The window variety is also interesting.  I particularly like the elliptical windows along the fourth level.  There are other details such as the short parapet railing running along the roof line and repeated at two heights on each tower.    I also like the floral bunches (would you call this a wreath or a garland or something else?) on the towers and look forward to seeing what types of flowers are put into them.  I also look forward to seeing the fine details on the cornice.

I also like the large details of the temple.  The corners of the building have a weightier look that makes the building appear strong while at the same time making the center windows seem even more open and beautiful.  The first level is also made of massive blocks which gives it a weighty look.  This is a good architectural trick to give balance to an exterior and makes the temple look enduring.  The soaring spires, combined with the 4 stories and somewhat slender proportions, make the temple appear tall and grand in a great way.

I love the symbolism of this temple with its two spires based on Independence Hall.  This is fitting as Pennsylvania is where the U.S. government was set up with the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution which we believe to be inspired by God.  The spires represent the priesthoods and remind us that Pennsylvania is also where the government of God, the priesthood, was restored to the earth in 1829.  The Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood were restored to the earth by John the Baptist and Peter, James and John respectively near Harmony Pennsylvania.

The whole interior of this temple should be interesting.  The Manhattan New York Temple's interior would fit the exterior architecture perfectly.  It borrowed the neoclassical elements from the Salt Lake Temple.  I would be happy if the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple also borrowed interior elements from the Salt Lake Temple.  The murals could also show the area around Harmony, Pennsylvania where the priesthoods were restored and where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were baptized.  Depictions of the priesthood restorations and baptisms would be great in murals.  Much of the translation of The Book of Mormon also happened in this state and should at least show up in a painting.  Also, the Founding Fathers who met at Independence Hall appeared in the St. George Utah Temple to have their temple work done.  I would add a picture of that event somewhere in the temple.

I really like the new two-spire temple style and hope that the church uses it for a while.  I think it is the best style in a long time.  Please comment and let us know what you think about this style of temple, the individual temples, or anything else in this post.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy the blog, thanks. Just wanted to make a couple of points about the comparisons in the second paragraph.

Payson may be based on floor plans for Draper or Gilbert (although both Payson and Gilbert will be significantly larger in sq. feet than Draper), but has a very different exterior design than Draper (and even Gilbert, although I see more similarities there).

While Trujillo, Cordoba, and Phoenix all have the same basic low, spread-out design, Phoenix is slated at nearly 60,000 sq. feet and, while I haven't seen figures for Cordoba and Trujillo, I would suspect they are more in the order of 20,000 sq. feet. In addition, the Phoenix Temple has some unique exterior design elements that distinguish it from the more severe lines of Cordoba and Trujillo.

Brett said...

I like that the Payson temple has a unique exterior design, although I can't help thinking about the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

I too love the new twin towered design, with the Rome design being my favourite. I am in complete agreement that a modern design is totally apt so as to stop any comparison to existing styles within the city.

I am very glad to see the Philadelphia temple have a sympathetic design that will fit in very nicely with it's surrounding environs.

In regards to the new smaller temples that have been released, although I understand the need and the resulting blessings for many members...I am so happy that the mini temple design has been retired...or at least heavily modified.

I hope that I will get to see a new temple in my neck of the woods sometime soon. lol

tolman said...

I feel in love with the philadelphia temple as soon as I saw it. I wonder if it will have a assembly room with having four floors and a basment. It would be fitting because of the history of the area and church history as well

honeyboo said...

I just got out of a BYU-Idaho devotional in which the managing director of the church revealed a whole slew of new temple architectural renderings. And all I have to say is, wow. Expect a lot more classical-style designs, folks. Especially keep your eyes peeled for the Tijuana Mexico Temple, with what appears to be a Baroque/Spanish Colonial design.

Quinn Rollins said...

I love the two-spire design as well; I think your analysis of the Brigham City and Philadelphia designs are right on. All four of those are beautiful buildings, and feel distinctly "Mormon."

And like the commenter above wrote, I'm glad the "mini temples" are able to bless so many thousands of members, but I'm also glad that we've moved past it and into these new designs.

Can't wait to see what's next!

Brett said...

The Royal Liver Building in Liverpool, England. This Grade 1 listed building was completed in 1911.

Chad said...

I was at BYU-Idaho when the Rexburg temple was built and dedicated. I would often draw the Rexburg and add a second spire because I thought it would look better with a second. Later, a friend that was working in Rexburg City Hall when the initial planning for the temple was taking place said that some of the initial plans had a double spire design. As we know the west spire was dropped, but Rexburg is still a beautiful temple.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for inviting readers to contribute. I'm also a big fan of the Philadelphia Temple. I think it will be one of the most beautiful temples, rivaling the older classics like the SL, Manti, and Logan. I think it will stand alongside the Salt Lake and Washington temples as definitive examples of Mormon temple architecture. My only criticism is that the spires seem too tall and out of proportion to the rest of the building, although I don't see how they could be improved.