The Virtual Design of Temples

Have you ever wondered what goes into the design of new temples? How much is planned ahead of time?  To what extent do they know what the temple will look like when it is finished?  What level of detail is thought about even before construction begins?

I have thought those things many times before, and I believe they have now been answered in large measure by something fascinating that Elder Bednar shared in his CES fireside address just a couple weeks ago on May 3, 2009.  His talk was entitled, “Things as They Really Are,” and he spoke about how the virtualization of reality through modern technology can take particularly pernicious forms that can have damaging eternal spiritual effects.  It is an excellent talk, and one that every member of the Church should read and study carefully.

He also spoke of the good that can come through these technologies.  One of the positive influences of our modern advances in virtual reality was shown in architecture, engineering, and design planning.  Elder Bednar showed two sets of images of how computer graphics technology is used in the design of temples, and they are incredible:

Left: Computer rendering of sealing room in the Newport Beach California Temple.  Right: Photo of sealing room in the Newport Beach California Temple. (click for a larger view)

Left: Computer rendering of sealing room in the Newport Beach California Temple. Right: Photo of actual sealing room in the Newport Beach California Temple. (click for a larger view)

As you can see, an extremely detailed plan of the Newport Beach California Temple was conceived before construction even started, even down to the fabrics, textures, colors, lights, windows, and furniture.  Here is another:

Left: Computer rendering of lobby in the Copenhagen Denmark Temple.  Right: Photo of lobby in the Copenhagen Denmark Temple. (click for a larger view)

Left: Computer rendering of lobby in the Copenhagen Denmark Temple. Right: Photo of actual lobby in the Copenhagen Denmark Temple. (click for a larger view)

Again, the attention to detail is astounding in the lobby rendering of the Copenhagen Denmark Temple before it was constructed.  Needless to say, the Church knows a great deal about what a temple will look like before the dirt is stirred.  Coming from a computer graphics background, I am greatly impressed.

The Church spares no expense in doing things right, particularly where the Lord’s temples are concerned.  As in ancient times, the House of the Lord is only built with the finest of materials, craft, and skill available, and the most painstaking efforts are made beforehand to ensure that the Lord’s most holy house ends up being what it should be—the most sacred place on earth.

9 Comments

  1. Posted May 20, 2009 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Bryce! I still haven’t watched that talk. Here’s one more reason for me to do so.

  2. Posted May 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Amazing pictures! I need to carve out some time and watch his talk.

    The Saints in Chandler/Gilbert/Mesa are waiting with anticipation for the groundbreaking announcement and picture of the new Gilbert Arizona Temple. I wonder if at some point in the future the computer-generated interior photos will be a part of information released about new temples?

  3. Michael
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I would love to see the virtual drawings like this for the Philadelphia Temple. Since it is going to be a unique design and not one of the current two standard plans, the virtual drawings will make it come alive!

  4. Posted May 25, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    First of all, great talk. Second of all, amazing renderings of the Temple interiors! It doesn’t surprise me at all that they pay that close attention to detail. I can’t even imagine what technology will hold in store for us in the coming decades.

  5. Kendall
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    This was a great talk. I’ve played many video games over the years and have learned through time and experience that my time is better spent focusing on my wife and kids. I’m happier. They’re happier. We all win. Also, I know we are continually being warned of danger, but there was something especially concerning when Elder Bednar said, “…I raise an apostolic voice of warning…”

  6. Posted June 5, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Bryce, this is fascinating, especially from a design standpoint. Thanks for the info!

  7. Bethany Klick
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The fact that temples have been photographed before they are dedicated won’t matter so much anymore. We could release photos of the temple’s interior to the public! oh technology is an amazing device for sharing the gospel!

  8. Brett
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    What software is used to render the rooms?

  9. Posted September 7, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    No idea.

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