Temple Architectural Heritages: Cardston

I’ve always had a sort of passing interest in temple architectural history and design, so I thought I’d get Chat-GPT-V’s take on the possible architectural influences of different temples by uploading an image, asking it to “explain the architectural influences of this building and provide examples of buildings typifying these influences. Discuss non-LDS-specific architectural themes.” I hand-added images of the example buildings.I make no claim as to what exactly inspired the architect in each particular case.

From Wikipedia: It is one of eight temples that does not have an angel Moroni statue, and one of six without spires, similar to Solomon’s Temple. It is also one of only two temples the church built in the shape of a cross, the other being the Laie Hawaii Temple. [STC: It is worth noting that Catholic and other Christian churches are often built in the shapes of crosses].

STC Addendum: Commenters below noted Frank Lloyd Write’s influence on the Cardston temple, specifically his Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois. From the picture below, the resemblance is pretty clear. 

This building showcases an intriguing mix of architectural styles, but certain key characteristics stand out:

1. **Art Deco**: The emphasis on vertical lines, stylized and geometric decorative elements, and the layering and stepping of the building’s profile are reminiscent of Art Deco. This architectural style, which gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, is known for its combination of modern styles with fine craftsmanship and luxurious materials.

2. **Modernism**: The clean lines, absence of ornate details, and the use of geometric forms, especially the rectangular and square patterns, suggest Modernist influences. Modernism emphasizes the use of modern materials, like concrete and glass, and is often characterized by a lack of superfluous decoration, focusing instead on the function of the building and the space it creates.

3. **Brutalism**: There’s a hint of Brutalism in the building’s design, especially in the use of raw concrete and the bold, blocky forms. Brutalist architecture, which became popular in the mid-20th century, is characterized by its ruggedness, straightforward use of materials, and stark geometric shapes.

4. **Postmodernism**: Some elements of the building, such as the stylized decorative features, could be considered postmodern. Postmodern architecture often combines elements from different architectural movements and can include playful or ironic references.

5 comments for “Temple Architectural Heritages: Cardston

  1. It’s remarkable how AI managed to miss the obvious. A short article on the church website about the temple says that its architects were influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, especially by his Unity Temple (in Oak Park, Illinois). As to its reference to brutalism–there’s not a bit of exposed raw concrete in the exterior of the temple. Couldn’t Chat-GPT-V tell the difference between polished granite and concrete?

  2. My great-grandfather, Hyrum Pope, designed this temple (as well as Laie). He and his partner were heavily influenced by FLW. They were selected after the Church held a “contest” “competition”.

  3. Fascinating. I added a picture of the Unity Temple, and the commonalities are uncanny.

    Sometimes the AI hallucinates and I have to remove something that’s off, and I missed the bit about the exposed concrete.

  4. Very interesting, but note that even though temples have many geometric symbols of circles and squares, there is no mention of any influence of the relationship between FREE MASONRY symbols and those found in temple architecture/design/decor. Even so, another article of interest that I can add to my ‘temple’ documenatation.

  5. Im glad to see that others have already pointed out the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on the temple. It’s even more obvious when you see how it’s decorated on the inside: mission style is everywhere. The colours, the wood, the slatted furniture, the stained glass Tiffany lamps, the geometric stained glass, all of it.

    When I first went inside several decades ago, I’d never heard of the style or FLW, I just knew the interior really resonated with me. Only later when I stumbled on FLW’s work and realized there was a name and a movement to what I loved so much did I do some research on his work.

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