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 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' 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 the 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.