8 January 2015
On April 10, 2008, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to build a temple in Gilbert, Arizona. The Gilbert Arizona Temple is the 142nd operating temple of the Church, the fourth in Arizona, and one of three in the Phoenix and Mesa metropolitan area.
The Gilbert Arizona Temple is situated on a 15-acre site in Phoenix’s East Valley. It serves Latter-day Saints in Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Florence, Globe and Maricopa, Arizona. Elder Claudio R. M. Costa, a member of the Church’s Quorum of the Seventy, conducted the groundbreaking and site dedication on November 13, 2010, signifying the official start of construction.
The 85,326-square-foot temple was designed by the Tempe, Arizona, architectural firm Architekton, with architect Gregory B. Lambright overseeing the project. The temple includes a baptistry, dressing rooms, administrative offices, a chapel, instruction rooms, sealing rooms (used for marriages) and waiting rooms. A 195-foot spire rises from the center of the roof and is capped with a 400-pound gold-leafed fiberglass statue of the angel Moroni, a prophet from the Book of Mormon.
The desert agave plant, native to Arizona, inspired the exterior and interior design. Lambright explained this design decision:
“We looked at a number of items that would represent the Southwest here in the desert. … We wanted something to represent the living waters of Christ, and for the temple to be an oasis in the desert. And being a native here, I’ve always loved the agave plant and what it does.”1
Stylized versions of the agave plant can be found carved into the stonework inside and out, imprinted on the stained-glass windows, sculpted into the carpet, etched into the woodwork and displayed on the light fixtures, door hardware and elsewhere. The colors of the agave plant’s leaves and flowers influenced the interior, which has a color scheme of soft blues, greens, golds and creams.
The temple exterior features ivory-colored precast concrete and white quartz. The grounds are surrounded by a wrought-iron fence and include fountains, shaded plazas, arbors and trellises. Lush landscaping, designed to create a feeling of tranquility for temple visitors, features hundreds of palm, olive and pistachio trees, along with thousands of plants and shrubs, especially the agave.
The art-glass windows of the temple were designed and constructed by Holdman Studios, a glass-art studio based in Lehi, Utah. The glass was hand-painted, soldered together and then transported from Utah to Arizona in 10-by-3-foot sections. Fine artist Howard Lyon, a resident of Gilbert, painted two 4-by-15-foot murals depicting scenes from Christ’s life that hang in the baptistry.
After the temple construction was completed, an estimated 407,020 visitors attended an open house held from January 18 to February 15, 2014. Then, on March 1, a cultural celebration was held at a nearby park, where 12,000 young people gave a performance based on the theme “True to the Faith.”
Although an atypical rainstorm soaked the performers and spectators, the event continued as planned. The next day, on Sunday, March 2, the temple was dedicated. Church President Thomas S. Monson offered the dedicatory prayer, in which he prayed that the temple would be “a sanctuary of serenity, a refuge from the storms of life and the noise of the world” and “a house of quiet contemplation concerning the eternal nature of life.”2
1 Srianthi Perera, “Desert Agave Inspires Gilbert LDS Temple Design,” The Republic, Sept. 6, 2013, http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/20130904desert-agave-inspires-lds-temple-design.html.
2 Gilbert Arizona Temple dedicatory prayer, in Church News, Mar. 8, 2014,http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/64476/Gilbert-Arizona-Temple-A-refuge-from-the-storms-of-life.html.