Saturday, March 2, 2013

Temple Ordinance Space and Other Space

My last post drew a lot of attention and has apparently led to some arguments and it sounds like hurt feelings.  I have re-read my post and made some changes that hopefully convey what I wanted to better without sounding negative.  I hope you will forgive me if my opinions, or the comments on either side of the issue offended you.  That post is somewhat related to this post.  I think this post is interesting, although it is essentially an essay.

Original Font, Logan Utah Temple
Temple have certain areas that are required for ordinances.  These are the baptismal font, confirmation rooms, initiatory rooms, endowment rooms, celestial room, sealing rooms, Holy of Holies and Priesthood Assembly Halls (the sacrament is performed there).  Some of these are somewhat optional.  Confirmations don't require a separate room and are occasionally done in the font room.  A sealing room can also be used as a temporary Holy of Holies.  Temples generally need to have this ordinance space to be considered a temple, although the Kirtland temple only had initiatory space and Assembly halls and most temples don't have assembly halls.  In theory a temple could consist of purely a baptistry, although I would be really surprised to see the church build one like that.  The point I want to make is that ordinances and the rooms associated with them are what is most important architecturally in a temple.

Waiting Room, Palmyra New York Temple
There are other rooms in temples that aren't vital.  These include lobbies, waiting areas, worker training rooms, bride's rooms, kitchens and cafeterias, laundry areas, locker rooms, the grounds, atriums, temple offices, bathrooms, staircases, closets, etc.  None of these spaces are really required for a temple, although a lot of them are practical so we almost always see them in temples.  For example, locker rooms are always there so we don't have to change into our whites before even entering the temple.  Other spaces such as cafeterias are no longer added to temples to save space and money as they aren't necessary.  President Hinckley's small temples were possible because he identified what was really necessary for a temple and left almost everything else out.  This saved expense and space and allowed for easier permitting for temples and much faster construction.  Even so, these temples still have Bride's rooms, waiting areas, and locker rooms.

Bride's Room, Manhattan New York Temple
Temples often have non-ordinance areas either for convenience or to architecturally strengthen the temple experience.  Bride's rooms are a good example of this.  They allow a bride to relax and feel special on their wedding day.  This highlights the sealing ordinance.  In my earlier controversial post I argued that Groom's rooms could also be included in temples to enhance the sealing experience for men in the same way as they do for women.  I hope we all agree that Bride's rooms (and Groom's rooms if ever added) are other space.  They aren't vital to the temple, but they help the temple experience.  I think they would be a nice addition to the temple.  If you don't that is fine, but please let me have an opinion on the matter.

Spiral Staircase, Manti Utah Temple
Other rooms also help our experience.  Lobbies frequently contain art that inspires and adds to the temple experience.  The Washington D.C. Temple lobby displays a large mural of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  The Provo Utah Temple has a low relief sculpture of Christ with the woman at the well.  Other temples have paintings or stained glass of Christ visiting the Americas.  The Ogden Utah Temple used to have a mural or Christ and some Apostles at the Mount of Transfiguration.  These all help to reinforce temple themes and strengthen church members.   The atriums in the San Diego, Bountiful, Portland, and Las Vegas Temples highlight the beauty of God's creations, reinforcing themes from The Temple Endowment.  Spiral staircases give a feeling of upward movement and demonstrate great skill and dedication in the construction of the temples.  All of these non-ordinance spaces in temples augment the temple.

A major purpose of this blog, for me, was to influence future architects to build exceptional temples.  I have been writing about architectural insights I have about temples partly so future architects can learn from them.  Sometimes I write suggestions on what would be interesting to see.  Yes, groom's rooms are an example of this.  Other suggestions are ornate door handles, particularly if symbolic, stained glass, spiral staircases, etc.  I hope that readers will continue to appreciate my insights and suggestions, even when their tastes are different than mine.

Well that is the post.  I'm not sure that it had much or a point other than letting me think about how space is divided in temples and what is really important, what is helpful, and what is merely convenient.  Please comment with any thoughts you have.  Hopefully I'll get back to posting somewhat regularly soon.


Andre7th said...

I'd just like to say that I really enjoy this blog. It's strengthened my understanding of temples, and their importance, and always provides unique insights. I've missed it recently, and hope you don't mind some of the commenters negativity. (I didn't think there was anything controversial in architecture, but I guess I was wrong.)

Scott said...

The comments weren't why I haven't written in a while. The main reason is that I have been really sick for the last few months. I have also been really busy with other things. Finally, I have already written on so many topics that I have to come up with something to write about. I'm glad you enjoy the blog.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to share with you that I am an architect and it is my hope and dream to someday be able to work on a temple. I have really enjoyed reading your blog and have learned so much about the history of Temple building. Your topic matters are fascinating, please keep writing. you have inspired me to take on my own research in study about temples. Hope your health is improving!

Paul said...

I wanted to chime in and say I too enjoy your blog. I have no connection to architecture. I find your insights valuable to me when in the temple when I attempt to derive additional meaning from the experience. In particular, the Washington DC posts helped me as I recently went there for several weeks and was better able to understand what I was seeing, whereas I would have missed many of the symbolic components there (as it seems rather plain inside to me)

Brian J said...

Scott, I have to add my voice to the choir expressing appreciation for this blog. I am a very literal person, so learning through symbolism is very difficult for me. Your blog has done a lot to improve my temple experiences.

I even learned and appreciated from the discussion of the Groom's Room post, though I wish people who didn't like the post would have spent their time explaining why they don't believe a groom needs or should have their own room instead of castigating people who disagree with them.

On the subject of the current post, I was about to write a nice post about how you and I disagree with the idea of what is vital - but then I contemplated the Salt Lake Temple. That temple only has ordinance rooms, an assembly room, and meeting rooms for the First Presidency and Council of Twelve - which I expect are necessary in at least one temple. It does not have locker rooms, which I consider necessary for changing; a lobby, necessary to check recommends and stop non-holders from proceeding; or rooms for the ordinance workers.

I am sure some people have already disagreed with me, and want to claim that the Salt Lake Temple has all of those additional spaces - but it does not! That temple, and other early temples, have an annex building connected to the temple which contains the necessary support rooms.

I live in the Vancouver, BC temple district and really like that temple. But I also really like the architectural concept of the temple annex, so you can change and prepare for the worship experience before even entering the temple.

And Scott, After the many posts you have made I can understand that you are having difficulty finding ideas. If you are willing to consider suggestions, I have been completely unable to find an answer to a question I have had for a long time about temple dedications.

Brett Stirling said...

Hi Scott,

Once again thank you for your excellent blog. This and the last post as always were thought provoking. I didn't add a comment for the grooms room as I don't really have an opinion either way about it. In saying that, I think it was a good point to discuss.

I always thought the mini temples were revolutionary for what they focused on and what they excluded. I think the streamlined focused and more open floor plans is reflective of the vison of President Hinckley for the Church as a whole. IMHO of course.

Once again, good work and I hope you're feeling better.

Perhaps a post on predicting future architectural trends of temples in 20 years might a good subject to discuss?

Cliff said...

This is an excellent blog, Scott. I check it practically every day to see if there's a new post. Sad about the negative tone of some of the comments to your previous entry. Sorry to hear that you've been sick. Take care and thanks again for your amazing insights.

The Tolmans said...

I think you should do a post on wall murals that are in more church owned buildings than just the temple. For exsample the mural in the provo temple of Christ and the women at the well is also in the Manti tabernacle. Because it was first in Manti why was it added to the provo temple? What other temple has things in them that are found in other church buildings? I think this would make a good post

James Crowther said...

I've never seen the Picture of the Brides room in the Manhattan Temple. Do you also have the picture of the Baptistery? I've searched all around but I have never seen it.

I'd like to see a post on the recent extreme attention to detail in the Temples dedicated and announced under President Monson. It is very Evident in the Spanish style in the El Salvador temple and the Mayan style in the Honduras Temple despite that, I assume, they are the exact same design. The culturalization is also very evident in the temples in Sapporo, Philadelphia, Hartford, Brigham City, and Tijuana.

After The 1999 to 2001 Boom in temple building where nearly all the temples were exactly the same, the pendulum has seemed to swung drastically the other way. Each temple is carefully thought out in every area to consider the Culture, even though there is only a few floor plans are being used. I think the trend stared with the Columbia River Temple. The design was used for 9 temples and they all appeared different on the Inside and the outside. It was also,I believe, the first mural in a temple for a long time. It is fitting that the last temple President Hinckley dedicated was the last of these 9 temples (Helsinki). Under Monson, the patterned has continued and there are several patterns being used.

Anonymous said...

Another reason for spiral staircases is because it's a feature that harkens back to Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 6:8).

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Anonymous said...

Can I also say that I love this blog and am so glad that there was a post again? :) Hope you feel better in the future.

Scott said...

I don't have a picture of the Manhattan Temple baptistry. It has murals, but I think it would be hard to photograph. You'll have to see it in person sometime.

Unknown said...

This might be a fun link for you:

If you look at the room in the upper left hand corner, you will see a small closet attached with a sink in it. This is used for the Second Anointing. Not a lot of members know about it, but it is practiced to this day.

This goes along with your blog posting, so I thought you might appreciate it.

Don said...

The post mentions that the Provo Utah Temple has a low relief sculpture of Christ with the woman at the well. That sculpture is the plaster working model for a relief sculpture that was executed in stone on the Cardston, Alberta Temple. It was installed in the Provo Temple, enhanced by coloring, in the mid 1980s. (I don't know the exact date of installation, but it wasn't there when I went through the MTC in late 1985 and was there when I went to BYU starting in 1988.)

sue crafts said...

I would like to know why we can't see the assembly halls I have been treated quite rudely when I asked