'Elegance to complement the spirit' -- Bountiful Temple's interior welcomes, teaches visitors

"What we are trying to accomplish in the Bountiful Utah Temple is to have a level of elegance that doesn't distract from the Spirit," said Allen B. Erekson, projects administrator for the Church's Temples and Special Projects. He is also the temple's architect of record.

As people enter the temple at the lower levels, they are welcomed into the temple with rich, warm colors that become progressively lighter and elegant as they proceed on the tour, he said. The interior design was under the direction of Lawrence Wyss, manager of interior design for Temples and Special Projects. Many professional designers on the staff also contributed."We like to have a sense of reverence in the temple's interior design that doesn't distract from the Spirit. The lighting and colors and type of art work and furnishings all need to complement the Spirit rather than distract from it," he said. "The level of craftsmanship at the Bountiful Utah Temple is comparable to other temples.

"Specialty painters in this temple did a wonderful job of adding detail. It is nice to have that detail to make it visually more pleasing."

He said this temple isn't tied to any style of architecture, but has some features similar to the Salt Lake Temple, while other details have been gathered from various sources.

"Yet, we've tried to unify the whole thing with color and use of materials," said Brother Erekson. "A case in point is the two different tones of color on the exterior. We have Bethel white granite and the types of coping and parapet details of a very harmonious gray color that relates to the granite."

He said the granite comes from a quarry near Sharon, Windsor County, Vt., about 15 minutes on the freeway from the birthplace of Joseph Smith.

"We looked at a number of materials, and the contractor had options of different marbles and granites. The Bethel white fit best into color scheme, but it was the contractor's option to use what was most economical. I was frankly very pleased with Okland Construction Co.'s decision to use the Bethel granite."

He said that symbolic details have been added to the exterior of the Bountiful temple, representing the sun, moon, and stars. These refer to the scriptural descriptions of the three degrees of glory.

He said the art glass was created by the Arthur Stern Studio of Oakland, Calif. "There is an ascending feel to the glass," he said. "It is more open as you go up. It is more private lower, with more clear glass higher that allows more light to come in and still gives privacy to the building.

"Arthur Stern worked very close with Brother Wyss and myself and Keith Stepan, the project architect." The windows follow a motif of Jacob's Ladder, which increases in detail as it rises.

The result is a beveled crystal glass that refracts the light in various colors. "The celestial room has round windows at the top with a lot of those bevels that, when the sun strikes them, spread a whole rainbow throughout the celestial room," said Brother Erekson.

The chandeliers, one of the artistic highlights of the entire building, were made by the Schonbek company of the Czech Republic.

While working on temples has many challenges, it is also rewarding, said Brother Erekson. "To get the Lord's building constructed in the way He wants it to be, and still have a sense of harmony with everybody is a very interesting challenge."

He said most people "love being involved with a temple. And I am no different than all these people. This is a wonderful thing to be a part of. In fact, I am very grateful for this special gift and blessing in my life of working with temples."

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