"He woke up with squares on his mind," A story about the San Diego Temple.
In February last year, my husband and I took a quick road trip to California to take some more photos. Temples are always pretty and I enjoy walking the grounds- but when we came up on the San Diego temple- wow! It really took my breath away. Circling around this amazing building, I just couldn't get over the feeling that someone must have been divinely inspired on how to create it. I pondered on how they must have been blessed with the vision to design it- not for themselves, (although it would have been an honor and special experience) but to bless countless others that would be touched and brought closer to God in it's artistic majesty. As someone who is in awe of this kind of revelation- I just felt that surely there must be a story. I was inspired as I looked up the history right there and found an article talking about the creation of San Diego Temple Design. I will link the full article below- but here is an excerpt from the Latter-Day Saint Magazine.
"When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bought property in San Diego for a temple in La Jolla, the architectural team chosen for the job chaffed quite a bit at the Church’s request to copy the then-standard temple model of the Boise, Idaho Temple. The plan, they said, would not fit into the La Jolla property, either architecturally or aesthetically and they lobbied the Church for a rejection of the Boise model and the chance to start over from the ground up. After listening to their appeal, President Gordon B. Hinckley, 1st counselor in the First Presidency, nixed the earlier directive, saying words to the effect of “Not all temples need to look alike.”
With this new-found freedom, the firm went to work on a design, taking their unusual commission very seriously. William (Bill) S. Lewis, a Church member who worked for the firm, wrestled with a basic design and a motif to use as decoration. He fasted and prayed repeatedly. Finally, whether inspired by a dream or some other prompting, he woke up one morning with squares on his mind...Lewis started with a box… a square… and began playing with it, modifying it, tipping it, twisting and tweaking it.
They settled on a floor plan with two boxes joined at the corners, like a blocky figure 8. Applying flow analysis, they added more boxes at the junction to create rooms and hallways. They put boxes inside of boxes as the temple rose upward, and put square spires at the corners of boxes. They merged the squares. At the junction of the two taller boxes, or offset squares, they added smaller overlaid, offset boxes as an eight-sided atrium, and put glass around it. The more they used the symbol, the better it worked.
They kept using the squares as a motif in the detail work, taking the boxes and offsetting them by 45 degrees, using the offset squares in the glass windows, inscribing them in glass doors, and using them in flower beds. They even put the offset square in the white wrought-iron fence that surrounds the grounds. They built a model on a tabletop and tweaked it some more, and then presented it to church headquarters. The church leaders liked it.
But what of the offset square that became the motif? Was it symbolic?
As fate would have it, Lewis’s friend Stan Smith, who was a representative during the temple project, took numerous pictures of the symbol used at the temple. He decided it just might be something more than just a detail.
He took a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah where he visited the LDS Church Historians Office. They then referred him to Hugh Nibley, emeritus professor of Ancient History at Brigham Young University. Nibley was legendary scholar of ancient history and prolific author on LDS themes.
When Stan Smith showed Nibley the symbol, he replied something to the effect of, “Oh sure, it is the seal of King Melchizedek.” Then Nibley showed Smith one of his latest books, Temple and Cosmos where, in the chapter Sacred Vestments, he had his illustrator Michael Lyon draw a reproduction of a mosaic from a sixth century chapel in Ravenna, Italy.
President Hinckley, who presided over the dedication of the San Diego Temple, was sufficiently impressed. He then requested that the symbol be added to the Salt Lake City Temple. One can also find 8-point star variations all throughout the new Conference Center, the construction of which Hinckley also presided over, and the stars can be found around temple square on lamps and posts as well.
After retiring, Bill Lewis served as a sealer in the San Diego Temple he designed. He has given over a hundred firesides about his experience as a temple architect. However popular the symbol may be in local San Diego LDS culture, it remained unknown to the church at large." Link below with the full article.
I found this story amazing and thought you might enjoy it too.