Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why aren't there groom's rooms in temples?

One thing that I find odd is that there are Bride's rooms in LDS temples but no groom's rooms.  I think the lack of groom's rooms is a missed opportunity and sends architecturally mixed signals.  Here are a few of the functions of Bride's rooms and why I think groom's rooms are also needed. 

The main function of Bride's rooms are to be a place where the bride can get dressed for the sealing and then afterwards change into her often more elaborate wedding dress for photos on the temple grounds.  The room gives more space than a normal locker so brides can more easily change into larger dresses and so they can do their hair, etc., sometimes with help.  Grooms wouldn't need quite as much space, but tuxedos are a bit difficult to put on in a cramped locker and so grooms could certainly use more room.

Bride's rooms are also elaborate rooms with chandeliers, art, sculpted carpets, etc.  There are several reasons for this.  One is that it provides an appropriate setting to change into the temple clothes that she will be sealed in.  Grooms have to change into similar temple clothes for their sealing and so they should similarly have a special room for changing on this most special day.

Bride's rooms also display art chosen to ennoble the bride and inspire her to live righteously and realize her incredible worth as a daughter of God and as a wife.  Often a picture of Queen Esther from the Bible hangs in the room, reminding women that they have great influence for good in marriage and that there are great examples of women in the scriptures.  I think grooms could use similar art so that as they prepare on the day of their sealing they too can think about how to properly treat their wife and future family and to honor their priesthood.  I think this would help set the tone for the sealing the groom is also about to participate in.

Bride's rooms provide a quieter, separate space to prepare for a sealing.  Surely grooms could use this as well.

I have heard that Bride's rooms are there because a wedding day is "her day".  While it is true that in American culture women seem to obsess a lot more about their wedding day with colors, cake flavors and reception details planned years in advance, it really isn't just her day.  It is the couple's day.  Both could use special rooms to change in as is commonly the case in reception centers.

I have also heard that we have Bride's rooms out of respect to women.  I've never really bought this argument.  Having respect for women doesn't mean we have to have disregard for men.  I am personally fine with groom's rooms being less elaborate than Bride's rooms, but I think they should still exist.  A similar situation exists in our church architecture.  There the Relief Society room used by the women is usually the nicest room in the building (with the possible exception of the chapel) while the priesthood rooms are usually in an overflow or spare classroom somewhere.  This sends the architectural signal that women and the Relief Society are really important but that the priesthood can go anywhere and isn't really that important (which is odd given the doctrinal importance of the priesthood).  This wasn't always the case.  If you look at old churches (built 50 years or more ago) they almost always have an Aaronic Priesthood Room and an Elder's Quorum or Melchizedek Priesthood Room (often wings) in addition to Relief Society rooms.  So in the past in churches our architecture was more consistent with our doctrine. 

This is a bit off topic, but we make the same mistake in our chapels where we tell everyone that the sacrament is the most important part and the focus of sacrament meeting and then place the sacrament table on one side of the room where it isn't the focus and instead have the pulpit and the talks as the focal point.  If you go back 50+ years sacrament tables used to be in front of the pulpits in the center or the sacrament tables were in the center of the stand with the pulpit off to one side.  This made the architecture consistent with the doctrine, not in conflict with it.

Let's get back to my real topic, my confusion about why we don't have groom's rooms in temples.

We hear so many talks telling men to take marriage seriously or lamenting that men are neglecting family duties, and yet on the very day that they are married, sealed for eternity, and form a family we miss the opportunity to architecturally tell them that it is more important than other days and to emphasize the importance of marriage and family.  Instead, the typical lockers will do.  Architecturally we are saying that women need to value marriage and family and should be overjoyed at the marriage, but the architecture is silent when it comes to men.  I know that this isn't what is taught, but the presence of an elaborate bride's room with instructive art and the lack of a groom's room doesn't architecturally show heightened importance for men in marriage.  We have an opportunity to set the tone for the sealing.  We have a chance to instruct the groom  on the importance of marriage, family, and his duties as a husband and father.  We can help him take his marriage seriously.  By not including groom's rooms we are being less effective in these areas.  If we are seriously concerned about men not living up to their marriage and family responsibilities, adding grooms rooms is one way we could help them (even if it is fairly minor).

I propose that we should start including groom's rooms in temples.  These don't need to be as elaborate as bride's rooms, but stained glass and nice carpets would be appropriate.  Room to comfortably change into temple clothes and later formal attire such as tuxedos would be nice.  Finally, good paintings and other art that is particularly suited to grooms and their responsibilities to their wife, future family, etc. should be in the groom's rooms to help set the tone and prepare the groom for the sealing ceremony.  When a groom goes into the groom's room he should feel like his wedding day is extra special.  He should realize that to the very core the day is special because of the importance of the sealing ordinance in God's plan.  He should feel a need to make this day special for his bride and his future family.  Grooms rooms would aid in this goal.

Let me know what you think about this. To be clear, I find it confusing that we don't have groom's rooms and I find it to be a missed opportunity, yet they aren't a necessary part of the temple.  The temple is still God's house without them, I just think it would be better with them.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

LDS Temple Art - Restoration Themes

I wanted to highlight some art in LDS Temples that is related to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of the last dispensation of the gospel (1820 to now).

Many temples depict the First Vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith.  Some notable examples are in the Salt Lake Temple Holy of Holies which has a stained glass window of the vision (top below), in the lobby of the Palmyra New York Temple (which is overlooking the actual grove of trees where the vision occurred (middle below), and in the entry of the Redlands California Temple which also has a stained glass window of the vision (bottom below).


Another popular restoration theme is of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood and of baptisms in modern times.  The Cardston Alberta Canada Temple has murals in its baptistry including ones of John the Baptist ordaining Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood in May of 1829.  This event is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 13.  Copies of this mural are found in the Logan Utah Temple and the Helsinki Finland Temple (top below). The Mesa Arizona Temple has a mural of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery baptizing each other after having received the priesthood from the angel (middle below).  The Manti Utah Temple also has murals of baptisms (I believe of Joseph Smith and Oliver) that can be seen in the bottom photo below (although they are somewhat cut off).  There is also a depiction of these baptisms in the newly completed Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple.  I was pleased to see that the baptistry mural in the Brigham City Temple depicts baptisms in a stream near Brigham City, presumably during pioneer times.  There is also a painting at the back of the baptistry chapel of a Native American being ordained near Brigham City in pioneer times.

The Salt Lake Temple used to have a mural of Joseph Smith preaching to Native Americans.  Currently the  Mesa Arizona Temple includes a large mural of Joseph Smith and others preaching to the Native Americans in the 1830s.

The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple World Room mural has a depiction of pioneers arriving by wagons, a couple farming the land, and of seagulls coming to rescue the pioneers from the plague of crickets.
The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple has many pioneer related items and art.  Most notable is a large window made like a quilt, but out of glass.  It contains images related to Winter Quarters and the Mormon migration such as the prophet Brigham Young, the Kanesville Tabernacle, pioneers burying a child, Brigham Young signing a treaty with the Native Americans, Native Americans who mercifully helped the saints, the odometer which was invented there, etc.
The Salt Lake Temple has several other restoration themed pieces of art.  One sealing room has a stained glass depiction of Joseph Smith receiving the plates that he translated into The Book of Mormon from the Angel Moroni.
In the downstairs portion of the main hallway in the Salt Lake Temple there are two prominent paintings on opposite sides of the hallway by Alfred Lambourne.  These are of The Hill Cumorah and Adam-Ondi-Ahman.  The painting of the Hill Cumorah (below) shows the hill where Joseph Smith received the plates that were translated into The Book of Mormon.  This hill in New York state may not be the same as the hill mentioned in The Book of Mormon and was not referred to as the Hill Cumorah until many years after Joseph Smith obtained the plates there, but it is often associated with the Hill Cumorah in The Book of Mormon where the Nephite nation was destroyed.  Lambourne played off of this.  The painting is both showing the Hill with its positive associations of the Nephite record, and it has an ominous tone reminding us that just as the Nephites were eventually destroyed for their wickedness, we need to remain righteous and keep our temple covenants if we are to keep receiving The LORD's blessings.  The painting of the valley of Adam-Ondi-Ahman shows the valley in Missouri where several notable events occurred and will occur.  The Doctrine and Covenants states that Adam and Eve went to this valley after leaving the Garden of Eden and that Adam gathered and blessed his posterity there.  A temple site was dedicated there in the 1830s, but the temple was never built.  Finally, the Doctrine and Covenants contains a prophecy that as part of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, HE will appear there and minister to the righteous.  This painting works with the Hill Cumorah painting.  Our obedience or disobedience to God and his covenants we make in the temple will determine if we end up like the Nephites, destroyed as at Cumorah, or if we end up with the faithful, gloriously greeted by the returning Messiah.  By the way, Lambourne made 2 copies of each painting.  One set is in the Salt Lake Temple.  The other set is on display on the first floor of the Church History Library in Salt Lake City so the general public can view these.
Finally, there are several temples with sculptures related to the restoration.  Most notably, the Laie Hawaii Temple has a sculpted frieze of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times (below) which depicts events from 1820 onward.  There is a bronze replica of this sculpture in the Church History Library on the first floor.  The Mesa Arizona Temple also has sculpted friezes showing the gathering of Israel from the four corners of the earth and depicts various groups joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with most immigrating to be with the church.  These can be seen in my post on sculpures here or in this article from The Ensign magazine.

There are many other examples of restoration themed art in LDS temples.  I noticed a painting of the heavenly visitations that occurred in the Kirtland Temple in the Manhattan New York and Brigham City Utah Temples.  Please comment and share what restoration themed art you have noticed in temples.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Brigham City Utah Temple

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Brigham City Utah Temple open house.  It was a wonderful experience and I'd like to share some of my impressions about this temple.

First, if you haven't already, you can go to the following link and download photos of the interior:
http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-brigham-city-utah-temple-opens-for-public-tours
That link will not stay up forever, so get the photos now if you want them.

I loved the detail in the Brigham City Temple.  The style is meant to tie back to the pioneer temples (Salt Lake, Logan, Manti and St George temples in Utah).  It does this through a number of features.  On the exterior, the two main towers with spires and four corner towers echo the pioneer temples.  On the interior, the neoclassical style feels similar to the ornate grandeur of the pioneer temples, particularly Salt Lake and Manti.

One detail I particularly liked was the use of a cast bronze font instead of the white fiberglass fonts that have been used in recent years.  I like that it makes it look more like the fonts used from pioneer times through about the 1950s.  I also like it because as much as I like white oxen, you need to occasionally do something different.  It feels fresh and I like that.

Brigham City Temple Baptistry
While you are admiring the photo of the font, make sure that you notice the original paintings in this room.  There are a lot  of new paintings in this temple.  I particularly want to point out the painting of baptisms being performed in a river in the Brigham City area seen in the photo, and a painting of a Native American being confirmed in pioneer times which is also in the baptistry.  I also noticed several paintings of people harvesting fruit.  One was a lady placing apples in a basket.  These tied into the history of Brigham City which is known for its orchards, and they tie into the temple and gospel themes of gathering, fruit, harvest, etc.  In the Matron's office, which leads into the Bride's Room, there are some paintings of birds that were painted by President Boyd K. Packer, current president of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles who was raised in Brigham City and who used to go to school on the site the temple was built on.  I'm not sure if President Packer's love of birds influenced the endowment room murals, but they are full of numerous birds.  Brigham City is also home to a bird sanctuary and many varieties of birds are in the area due to the very close proximity of the Great Salt Lake and its tributaries.  I enjoyed the endowment room murals.

Brigham City Utah Temple Endowment Room A
This temple has a lot of ornate decorations.  This is very apparent in the second endowment room, essentially the Terrestrial Room, which is ornate enough to pass for a Celestial Room in most temples.  I really enjoyed the room.  If you look at the photos, notice the unique wood carving above the curtain.  It is also in the Celestial Room and Sealing Rooms.  The wood carving is extremely impressive in this temple.  The wood was rough carved by machine and then all finished my hand.  The detail is spectacular, and you really do have to see it in person to realize just how incredible it is.

The Celestial Room has stunning detail.  You can look at the photos.  If I remember correctly there are gold peach branches on the ceiling of the room.  I also noticed that the cream on white "wallpaper" appeared to be hand painted stenciling and not wallpaper.  The sculpted peach blossoms in the carpet were also beautifully done.

Brigham City Temple Sealing Room
The sealing rooms were probably my favorite part of this temple.  The photos the church has provided unfortunately skip the best part.  The ceilings of the room have a circular section painted blue with peach branches in bloom running over the top.  So looking up from the altar it looks like you are laying under a peach tree looking through the white and pink blossoms towards a clear blue sky.  I used to have a peach tree and loved it in spring, so I really liked this detail.  Also, if I remember correctly, the peach branches on the ceiling were also in the Celestial Room, but only in the sealing room were they fully in bloom with colorful blossoms.  So I liked that symbolism.  The sealing rooms may be my favorite of any temple, although I'm not certain about that.  The detail is stunning.

There are many other aspects of this temple that I loved.  I liked the unifying peach blossom motif.  The intricate stone inlays were beautifully crafted.  Many colors were incorporated into the temple making it more interesting than the white and off white color schemes found in most temples, while still being light and inspiring.  The stained glass is really beautiful.  Also, the railings and woodwork are very nicely done and detailed.

I could go on, and perhaps I will later add some to this post.  For now, I'd like to hear what your thoughts are on this spectacularly done temple.  So please comment.

One final note, the detail in this temple makes me optimistic that someday they will restore the Logan Temple with this level of detail.  Clearly we can still build temples as ornate as the pioneers.





Sunday, July 22, 2012

Celestial Rooms With Ceilings Vaulted Into Towers

So often in temples the Celestial Room, even when directly below a tower, does not actually look up into the tower (for example, the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple).  There are probably several reasons for this.  Some building codes may limit the height of useable space, so the room cannot open into the spire and meet building codes (which I find silly by the way).  Also, as a structural engineer I know that the building is much easier to design if you don't stick a hole in the roof diaphragm, although we can still get buildings to work, it just takes more effort on our part.  I love it when a temple actually uses the space of the spire to make the celestial room even taller.  Here are a few examples:


Cardston Alberta Temple Celestial Room
Laie Hawaii Temple Celestial Room
The Cardston Alberta Canada Temple and the Laie Hawaii Temple were the first to really use the space at the top of the temple.  While neither of these temples technically have a tower, they do jut up a bit at the center and this central space is the vaulted top of each temple's celestial room.  The vaulting in these temples allows for windows on every side of their celestial rooms.

Idaho Falls Temple Celestial Room
The Idaho Falls Temple is probably the first with a tower that the Celestial Room opens into.  I don't have a photo of this, but if you sit in the Celestial Room you can stare up into the tower and actually get use of the tower windows.









San Diego Temple Celestial Room
Probably the best example of actually using the spire space has got to be the San Diego California Temple.  Its Celestial Room occupies one of its two main towers and provides the spectacular view pictured here.









Draper Utah Temple Celestial Room
More recently, the Draper Utah Temple has somewhat used its tower.  the view from the celestial room takes advantage of the lower portions of the spire.  The upper windows are still not visible from the celestial room and the dome at the top in the picture is painted to look like a dome and actually doesn't poke up into the spire.  Even so, this is a better use of the spire space than most temples accomplish.



I'd like to hear about other temples that actually use the spire space in the Celestial Room (or elsewhere) so please comment about other temples that use this space.  I hope that we will start seeing the tower space of temples being used much more often.





Original LDS Temple Architectural Drawings

I recently found some great original architectural drawings of the Nauvoo Temple and Salt Lake Temple.  They are on the church's website.

The Nauvoo Temple architectural drawings are found here:
http://churchhistorycatalog.lds.org/primo_library/libweb/pages/dvds/dvd18/MS-11500/seg1.jsp

The Salt Lake Temple Drawings are found here:
http://churchhistorycatalog.lds.org/primo_library/libweb/pages/dvds/dvd18/CR-679-13/contents.jsp

There are only a few drawings of the Nauvoo Temple, but they do let you see how the design changed over time.  The Salt Lake Temple plans are extensive and show numerous changes that are quite fascinating.  You can even see what are essentially shop drawings of every course of stones for the temple.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Temple Symbols - Olives

A few days ago I was looking over the interior photos of the Kansas City Missouri Temple that are currently posted on the LDS church's newsroom website.  The photos are very nice and I encourage you to view them.  One repeated element of this temple is olive branches.  There are olive branches in the exterior precast panels, carved into art glass, added to custom railings and light fixtures, sculpted into carpets, gold leafed onto walls, and painted in the temple.  A large stained glass window of an olive tree stands behind the recommend desk, flanked by olive branches sculpted into the adjacent panes. The furniture in the temple also features olive branches (the sealing room sealer's desk is covered in olive branches).  There are also bowls in the celestial room with olive branches on them.  Olive branches are the unifying symbol in this temple.  I want to take a little time to discuss how olive branches are used in temple architecture and how they are an appropriate symbol.

I thought that olive branches had been used a lot in temple architecture, but discovered very few examples of their use.  I suspect (and hope) that I have missed a few places where they are used.

The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple contains various temple symbols.  In the baptistry there are three panes with sculpted glass.  They are a fig branch, an almond branch, and an olive branch (left).  All 3 are symbolic.  The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple also has olive branches on the front doors.  You can see these in the photo on the right.

The Salt Lake Temple also has olive branches.  The front doors have olive branches on the metal plate behind the doorknob seen in the picture below.  You can see the original of this photo here.
Olive branches and trees make an excellent temple symbol.  Olives represent peace.  They are a symbol of God's covenants with man (a dove brought an olive branch to Noah showing that the flood was over).  Olive oil is used in priesthood ordinances and so olives are a symbol of the priesthood and Christ.  Olive oil can provide light and olives symbolize light.  Olive trees represent Israel, God's chosen people, and all mankind (see Jacob 5 in The Book of Mormon where the tame olive tree represents Israel and the wild olive tree represents everyone else and God is concerned about saving both).  Olive oil is also a symbol of royalty and was used to anoint kings and priests.

In the temple, olives signify that temple work is done by the priesthood, concerns all of humanity, brings us peace and heals us.  It establishes the government of God.  Olives are indeed a great temple symbol.

I like how extensively the olive symbol was used in the Kansas City Missouri Temple and hope that olives, olive branches, and olive trees will continue to be used in temple architecture.  I also find olives fitting for Kansas City.  The temple is a 5 minute drive from Liberty Jail in Missouri where the prophet Joseph Smith and others were imprisoned for a time.  It is in a state where a lot of violence, murders, etc. were done against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and where Mormons were driven from the state.  The olive branch helps show that this tragic past has been overcome and points to the fact that we believe that Jesus Christ will come to Missouri as a part of his second coming and that Zion, the New Jerusalem will be built not far from here in Independence, Missouri.  The peace of the gospel and the Millenial reign of Jesus Christ will more than overcome the past.

Those are my thoughts.  Please write and let us know what you think and particularly where else olives are used in temples.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

LDS Temple Stone Inlays and Mosaics

Stone inlays and mosaics are nice works of art.  It takes a lot of time and skill to place the stone properly in order to maintain a level surface.  Cutting the shapes just right is also difficult.  Skill is also required in selecting the individual pieces of stone so that they look good with each other.  The overall product is rich and elaborate and can be expensive, but it shows a certain dedication that is apparent in the various arts used in LDS temples.  Here are some examples that I found.

Temple baptisteries had a lot of examples of stone inlays.  The following picture shows stonework in the floors of the following temples (left to right, top to bottom): Draper Utah, Santo Domingo Domican Republic, San Diego California, Toronto Ontario, Panama City Panama, Vernal Utah, Las Vegas Nevada, and Portland Oregon.  Particularly interesting is the San Diego California Temple with its eight sided star which is similar to the eight sided Seal of Melchizedek symbol used throughout that temple.  Also, the Las Vegas Nevada Temple and Portland Oregon Temple each have a Star of David on the floor.  Another interesting pattern is the Panama City Panama Temple's baptistry inlay which is a symbol used by Native Americans in Panama.
The sides of fonts also often have stone inlays.  In the image below (left to right, top to bottom) you can see the Accra Ghana, Billings Montana, Quetzaltenango Guatemala, Helsinki Finland, and Apai Samoa Temples' fonts with stone and tile inlays.
Entryways are also a common area for stone inlays and mosaics.  In the following image you can see the following temples (left to right, top to bottom): Quetzaltenango Guatemala, Twin Falls Idaho, Draper Utah, Helsinki Finland, Mexico City Mexico, Aba Nigeria, Atlanta Georgia, and Gila Valley Arizona Temples.
Several entries have more elaborate floor inlays or mosaics.  From top to bottom in the image below are the Lubbock Texas, Newport Beach California, Apia Samoa, and Redlands California Temples' entry stone inlays.  Although I didn't have a picture of it, the entry lobby of the Las Vegas Nevada Temple also has an impressive inlay with numerous types of stone in a large circle.
I like all these stone inlays and hope to see many more in temples.  These are only a selection of the ones I found in my photo collection.  I noticed several things.  First, these all occurred in halls, entrys, lobbies, and baptistries.  I would like to see some elsewhere in the temple.  Second, I noticed that a lot of there are from newer temples which means that the church is actively promoting this art style in temples.  That means we will probably see a lot more.

Please write and let us know what you think about these stone inlays/mosaics in Mormon Temples and any interesting ones that I skipped that you want to highlight.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Symbolic Arrangement of LDS Temple Rooms

Today I'd like to discuss how the arrangement of rooms in an LDS Temple can have symbolic significance.  

I was looking over old plans for a church and noticed that one wing was reserved for the Aaronic Priesthood, one for the Stake Presidency, another for the Relief Society, another for Bishoprics and clerks offices.  A large section was devoted to the Primary, and another for classrooms.  There was definite organization in this building.  The rooms used by various groups were each given a place and the organization helped make each auxiliary important.  Temples are similar.  Many are organized to emphasize certain aspects of the work we do.  On the exterior we often see two towers or sets of towers or two main sides representing the two priesthoods, the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The Mesa Arizona Temple has four corners representing the gathering of Israel from the four corners of the earth (as the sculptures on the corners make clear).  So spatial arrangement of the exterior architecture is clearly used symbolically.  The interiors of many temples are no different.

The Kirtland Ohio Temple was the first temple built in this dispensation.  It has some unusual interior features.  Some, such as booths with doors for the pews are common in older New England architecture.  Other features are distinctly Mormon.  It is one of many temples with two main doors in the front and two main side aisles (similar to how our chapels are usually arranged) instead of a center aisle.  This is all the more peculiar because the two main rooms were often divided into four sections using curtains, something that would have been easier with a center aisle.  So what do the two aisles represent?  Well, there are various interpretations, but my two candidates are the two priesthoods, and males and females and their different roles - something that is evident in today's endowment.  The Kirtland Temple, and the other temples with Priesthood Assembly Halls, have two sets of pulpits in a room.  In Kirtland there were pulpits on the west and east sides of both the main floor and upper floor rooms.  These pulpits were reserved for the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods respectively with the Melchizedek side higher and more ornate.  The spatial arrangement here signified two priesthoods and their relative levels.  Finally, the Kirtland Ohio and Nauvoo Illinois Temples each originally used rooms in the attic for higher temple ordinances.  In Kirtland, this is where initiatory ordinances began to be performed.  In Nauvoo, the full endowment and sealings were originally performed in the attic level.  This signified that these were higher and important ordinances.

The Nauvoo Illinois Temple introduced another spatially symbolic room - the baptistery.  Joseph Smith wrote the following (recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 128:13):
Consequently, the baptismal font was instituted as a similitude of the grave, and was commanded to be in a place underneath where the living are wont to assemble, to show forth the living and the dead, and that all things may have their likeness, and that they may accord one with another—that which is earthly conforming to that which is heavenly, as Paul hath declared, 1 Corinthians 15:46, 47, and 48:
I have emphasized in this scripture that the font was commanded to be underneath as a symbol of the grave.  Because of this, most fonts are in a basement and the font often sinks into a sub-basement.  This preserves the grave symbolism of burying our sinful selves, and of the resurrection.  A few temples have fonts at ground level, so the sculpture is in a basement, while the baptistry is on the main level. This is sometimes required due to high water table, but it is still underneath, and not on a higher level.


The Logan Utah Temple began using progressive, muraled endowment rooms.  In that temple and several of the temples that followed, each room got higher up (there were a lot of stairs) and larger.  This taught about progression as you moved through the endowment ceremony.  Spatially you were being taught that as we move from creation to exaltation, through experience and covenants we are made higher, more important, holier, and closer to heaven and God.

The Salt Lake Temple's baptistry showed that baptism was an Aaronic Priesthood ordinance by having the font in the western half of the basement.

I have read that the Laie Hawaii and Cardston Alberta Temples (pictured) have progressive endowment rooms around a central celestial room.  Both buildings are essentially Greek crosses in plan and each wing is used for a different endowment room - Creation, Garden, World, or Terrestrial.  You end up in the central celestial room which has windows along the top.  This puts the celestial room, symbolic of the highest kingdom of God, in the most prominent place in the temple.  The Idaho Falls Temple does a similar thing and has the celestial room also under the single spire of the temple, adding to its prominent spatial placement.  Many temples have repeated this pattern.  I particularly like when the central celestial room has windows letting natural light flood in as the Draper Utah Temple does.

Many temples have their sealing rooms below the endowment rooms.  This tends to be for practical reasons.  I love it when a temple instead makes the sealing rooms the highest in the temple.  The Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple and the Rexburg Idaho Temple both have sealing rooms on a floor above the endowment and celestial room floor.  This helps to signify that the sealing ordinance is higher than the endowment ordinance.  The Portland Oregon Temple has one sealing room off the celestial room in the spire of the temple which also helps to show that the sealing ordinance is required to attain the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom.  Other sealing rooms in this temple are on a higher floor.  In the photo the sealing room in the spire is entered on the right, below the mirror.  The others can be reached by going up the staircase to a mezzanine level of the Celestial Room and then through doors.

Most of the small temples have progressive endowment rooms with an A room leading into a B room leading into the Celestial Room.  These are often arranged in a line with the Celestial Room at the end of the temple where it can be in the most prominent position and have windows for natural light.  I'm glad that they are able to use this spatial symbolism.

Not all temples have their rooms placed with spatial symbolism in mind.  That is fine.  Sometimes having a room near a window for light may be a more important consideration.  Often, smaller temple plans have rooms arranged to be cost effective and preserve a small building footprint which doesn't always coincide with arranging rooms symbolically.  In these circumstances the architect must find other ways to teach.  I am glad that many of our temples are able to use the interior arrangement of rooms to enhance the teaching power of the temple.

Those are my thoughts.  Please comment and let us all know what you think about this topic and other great examples that you have seen.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Salt Lake Temple Finials

Angel Moroni statues are common on LDS Temples and usually function as their finials (decorative spire tips).  But there are many other finials used.  I thought I'd highlight those on the Salt Lake Temple.
Salt Lake Temple finials.  (original photo here)
Salt Lake Temple Moroni (original)



The Salt Lake Temple has 6 main towers.  One is topped with the Angel Moroni statue which functions as its finial.


Salt Lake Temple finial
The other 5 towers have a detailed copper finial on a granite sphere.  These copper finials used to have light bulbs along their tops and were the original source of tower lighting to the temple.
 
Salt Lake Temple finials (original)
Each main tower is also surrounded by 12 smaller points with their own finials.  These have a sculpted bud.  One book I read claimed that these might be flames, although I don't buy that interpretation as I think it is pretty clear that they are buds.  As buds they may just be decorative because buds are a very common type of finial in non-religious buildings.  But they may have added symbolism.  In the Bible, Aaron's rod, a symbol of his priesthood authority, was made of wood.  In Numbers chapter 17 we are told that The LORD miraculously made Aaron's rod bud.  It "budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds."  This was symbolic of The LORD choosing the tribe of Levi to hold the priesthood.  After that, the rod was placed in the Ark of the Covenant which was kept in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple of Solomon.  So having flower buds on the top of the temple is a fitting priesthood and temple symbol.  This also fits because there are 12 bud finials on each tower and 12 is a priesthood symbol and a symbol of Israel.  So the bud finials may have special priesthood and temple symbolism, or they could just be decoration.  Either way, they look good and add to the Salt Lake Temple.

I like all the wonderful details on the Salt Lake Temple.  A few other temples have extra finials such as the San Diego California Temple which is clearly inspired by the Salt Lake Temple.  But I think the Salt Lake Temple is the most detailed with its finials and the most successful in its architecture.,

Feel free to comment and let us know what you think about these neat architectural details.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Holiness to the LORD The House of the Lord

Holiness to The LORD
The House of The LORD

LDS temples have that phrase inscribed on them as a reminder of what the temple is and how it should be treated.  This phrase is from the scriptures (Exodus 28:36, Exodus 39:30, Zechariah 14:20, etc.) and was connected to the Temple.  It is placed on the Temple as a reminder that it is God's house and that we need to be holy to enter it and we need to respect the temple as it is sacred ground that The LORD and his angels visit.  The word holy means set apart for a sacred purpose.  So the inscription on the temple means that the building is set apart for something special - in this case the higher ordinances of the gospel such as marriage for eternity, the saving work for the dead, and other special worship such as prayer.  It also means that we need to be purposeful when we go to the Temple, focusing on God and bettering ourselves.

Here are some interesting uses of the phrase "Holiness to The LORD, The House of The LORD" on LDS Temples.

The Nauvoo Illinois Temple:
Nauvoo Illinois Temple Inscription (original)

The Logan Utah Temple:
Logan Temple Keystone (original)

The Salt Lake Temple:
Salt Lake Temple Inscription Stone (original)
Salt Lake Temple Doorknob (original)
HTTL Monogram on the Salt Lake Temple Door (original)
The Cardston Alberta Temple's inscription can be seen here.
The Mesa Arizona Temple's inscription can be seen here.
The London England Temple's inscription can be seen here.
The Oakland California Temple has its inscription below one of its large sculpture panels of Jesus Christ.
The Denver Colorado Temple's inscription can be seen here.
One of the inscriptions on the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple is above the ornate front doors.

Those are just a few examples of Holiness to The LORD, The House of The LORD inscriptions on LDS Temples.  From ornate to simple, these provide a reminder of the mindset we need as we enter the temple and remind us whose temple it is.  I particularly like the more unique versions of this phrase.  For example, the Salt Lake Temple monogram and doorknobs and the Logan Utah Temple keystone are particularly interesting, in my opinion.  I am glad to see that the new Provo Temple being made out of the burned Provo Tabernacle will have a nice inscription above the east central window.

Well those are some of my thoughts.  Comment and let us know what you thing about these inscriptions, or any interesting uses of them that I am unaware of.

*Addendum
I read a few comments.  One pointed out that many temples have very plain inscriptions.  This is fine and I tried to focus on the interesting ones instead of the plain.  I would like to comment on the St. George Utah Temple's inscription.  It has very plain lettering that looks like it was added many years after the temple's completion - perhaps 50 years or more later.  You can see a photo here.  One reason why I find this inscription particularly disappointing is that the original plans showed a more interesting inscription.  I'm guessing that was removed entirely before the temple was built and the current inscription was added later so that this temple would have the inscription, although that is speculation on my part.  The original plans showed the inscription higher up, on the tower around the small circular window seen here.  If I was doing a restoration of this temple I would redo the inscription as shown in the original plans.  You can see the original elevation with the different inscription in the temple visitors center or I believe it is in one of the St. George Temple books.
 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Jordan River Utah Temple

Jordan River Utah Temple
Today I'd like to give some of my feelings about the Jordan River Utah Temple.  This temple was the first I ever attended.  I went there most often to do baptisms for the dead as a teenager.  I was also endowed in this temple, and witnessed the sealing ordinance for the first time there.  I currently live in th Jordan River Utah Temple district.  I also worked there as a temple worker shortly after my mission.  So I am familiar with the temple.

The Jordan River Utah Temple
The Jordan River Utah Temple was completed in 1981 and is in South Jordan Utah and West Jordan Utah (the temple is on the boundary between these two cities).   The temple land was donated to the church and the cost of the temple (and maintenance for many years) was entirely from member donations (outside of tithing).  This was unusual at the time.

The Exterior

Angel Moroni Statue
The Jordan River Temple is topped with a smaller replica of the Washington D.C. Temple Angel Moroni statue. This statue is one of the few that is depicted holding the golden plates that The Book of Mormon was translated from.

The architecture of this temple is a modern 1980s style. The exterior is made of white cast stone (precast concrete panels) with white marble chips.  These panels have a repeated inverted swoop theme which is also used as the main decorative motif in this temple.  These swoops (inverted parabolic arches?) are generally displayed in threes.

The temple tower is actually made of fiberglass which significantly reduces the weight on the structure below and reduces the mass of the building to reduce the seismic loads on the structure.  Despite being a different material, it blends perfectly with the cast stone.

The Jordan River Utah Temple at night
The temple also has stained glass windows (abstract) that glow at night.  The windows are very colorful and are geometric patterns.  They are beautiful on the inside when the sun is shining through them in the right way.

The temple has a lot of symmetry, with each of the four sides being nearly identical.  This makes the temple approachable from all directions.

The exterior and interior of this temple is very light on symbolism with the Angel Moroni statue on the spire and oxen statues supporting the font being the only prominent symbols. 

The Interior

Jordan River Temple Font
The Jordan River Temple is the fourth largest in the church with 148,236 square feet of floor space.  The temple entrance is on the east side.  In between the first and second set of doors is a staircase leading down to the baptistry.  As you enter the baptistry there is a small chapel used so groups can have a short prayer and devotional before starting baptisms.  This was added in the late 1990s (at least I seem to remember them adding it around then).  There is also a larger chapel that faces the font (with glass in between).  The room has dark wood that I don't particularly care for, but was fashionable in the 1980s when the temple was built.  The baptistry gets very busy and it is not uncommon for a several hour wait to do work.  This is why Utah continues to get new temples even though it already has 13.  The baptismal font is very similar in style to the Provo and Ogden (original) temples.  There are mirrors on two sides of the room giving an eternity effect.  There is also a 1980s style simple chandelier above the font.  The confirmation rooms are very small and feel more like closets than ordinance rooms.  This is unfortunate, because they feel like afterthoughts and not rooms for ordinances.  I don't know if their size and lack of ornamentation is due to the space required for two chapels, but they are the most disappointing part of the baptistry.  Even so, this was the first temple I did baptisms for the dead at and I do like it.

The bottom floor of the temple also has worker training rooms and a cafeteria.  The cafeteria is good, although the smell of food does drift into the baptistry where it is distracting.

The first floor of the temple houses the temple offices, a lobby, and dressing rooms.  The lobby was redone sometime around 2005 with new lights, stone flooring, etc. and is really nice.  There is a huge painting of the Garden of Eden (essentially copied from the L.A. Temple garden room mural) on one wall.

The Jordan River Utah Temple is one of the few temples with escalators.  They aren't as bad as you might think.  While I would welcome actual stairs, the escalators work well, are fairly quiet, and provide good views of the stained glass windows.

The second floor contains the chapel and the sealing rooms.  The chapel has some dark wood, but not annoyingly so.  It has an electronic organ.  In front of the speakers are dark wood posts that give the feel of pipes (while clearly being just decorative).  These have the same swooping pattern found elsewhere on the temple.  They look really cool, but are hard to describe, so you'll just have to see them for yourself.

Sealing Room
The sealing rooms are fairly simple.  Most, if not all, have facing mirrors to give an eternity effect.  The chandeliers are a dignified classical style.  The altars are made of stone and different colors of stone are used in each room.  Several rooms (there are 17 sealing rooms total, only the St. George Utah Temple has more with 18) have exterior stained glass windows.  These are the sealing rooms used most often for living sealings.  If I recall correctly, one or two rooms have 2 stained glass windows and the others have one stained glass window.  These sealing rooms are on the north and south ends of the temple.




The endowment rooms and celestial rooms are on the third floor of the temple.  There are six endowment rooms and the Jordan River Temple is one of only 4 temples with this many endowment rooms.  I am fairly sure that the endowment rooms in the Jordan River Temple are larger than the other temples making this the temple with the highest capacity.  Even with sessions starting every 20 minutes, this temple is kept busy.  The endowment rooms are fairly simple.  Their walls have alternating vertical strips or wallpaper and wood paneling with brass swoops matching the swoops elsewhere in the temple.  The altars are made of stone and match those in the sealing rooms.  The rooms can seat around 125-150 (If I remember correctly) and feel very spacious.  They also have high ceilings.

Jordan River Temple Celestial Room
The Celestial Room is a modern 1980s style.  It is oval shaped with an oval dome.  There are numerous mirrors on the walls with brass lines matching the unique brass chandelier.  Both the chandelier and mirrors match the exterior architecture.  The chandelier is a little hard to describe, so hopefully the photo helps.  The room has glass vases, tables, and other modern elements that work nicely.  I like this celestial room.  If I was to add anything it would be some of the colorful stained glass that is on the exterior of the temple, but the room is fine without it.

The third floor hallways also contain nice artwork - mainly landscapes.  The halls also provide views of the stained glass windows.

Throughout the temple there are also specially sculpted doorknobs.  These are brass or bronze and have swoops and other shapes that echo the architecture and patterns common in this temple.  It is nice seeing custom handles to make the temple a special place.

The Jordan River Utah Temple is a great example of 1980s modern architecture in my opinion.  It has beautiful repeated patterns, clean lines, and great functionality.  It does lack much symbolism, but I suppose it is okay for a few temples to be this way.  I love this temple and am glad we have it.

One of the best parts of the Jordan River Temple has nothing to do with the architecture, but rather how it is run.  The temple (at least when I worked there) went to great efforts to make patrons feel comfortable.  It is always a friendly place and among the best in that regard.

Those are some of my thought on this temple.  Please comment and let us know what you think about this temple.