FFKR Architects in Salt Lake City, UT, has worked with the Church of Latter Day Saints for at least 25 years. FFKR Architects has built these temples in major cities all over the world, roughly 150 of them and every year the Church of Latter Day Saints announces four or five new temples. “We were awarded the temple in Kansas City, it was a precast temple, very nice,” said Roger Jackson, principal architect at FFKR Architects. “Somebody else was rewarded the Philadelphia temple and went through the entire design process and developed a very contemporary building. The highest levels of the church said it didn’t fit right in their vision for the temple and decided it should be more traditional. The design managers on the project came to us and asked if we would help them get this building to be more traditional looking and approved, we said yes.”

FFKR Architects took the exact floor plan that Perkins + Will of Atlanta, GA, the firm who won the bid for the project, and tweaked it, stating they, “frosted the cake a little more traditionally.” According to Jackson, FFKR spent some time in Philadelphia gathering inspiration from the local architecture. “Philadelphia has so many beautiful buildings made out of stone,” said Jackson. “We took pictures of the buildings in the city in great detail, trying to get inspiration for the LDS temple. We do our best to make the temple fit like they belong in the city but every temple everywhere has a certain look to it, so that’s our challenge.” One of the things that makes this temple so unique, is that it is located right in the heart of the city, and not just near it. “A lot of the time the temple will be just outside of the city,” said Jackson. “The Hartford, CT, temple is actually just outside in Farmington. This temple is right there in the city, making it extremely unique. One of our biggest challenges with the design of the temple is that due to its location it put the project in several overlapping jurisdictions.” Besides the city of Philadelphia’s jurisdiction, it is also placed right next to the Ben Franklin Parkway, putting it in the highway’s jurisdiction as well.

On top of the issues with placements of jurisdiction, constructing a building of this magnitude in the city, can have issues with timing. “Building in a city is usually a very complex manor,” said Jackson. “We were very fortunate to be working with a contractor from the city who does this all the time and didn’t blink. Steel structures would come in and they pulled it off the truck and put it on the building. Usually there would be room for builders to layout things first, they didn’t need it. They were extremely good at their jobs.”

The original stone for the project was going to be a Chinese stone called G350, but due to unforeseen circumstances, plans had to be quickly adjusted. “The G350 stone is a lovely stone, it’s very creamy in color,” said Jackson. “We planned on using it but the Chinese government decided to close that quarry, so we scrambled. We originally picked another stone that I wasn’t thrilled about but someone else brought to our attention the stone Deer Isle from Stonington, ME, produced by A. Lacroix Granit from Quebec, Canada. It is an absolutely beautiful stone with white and gray flecks, sort of a lavender purple color in it. The other stone had come back with issues on our strength tests, this one passed and we all fell in love with it.” The stone was used throughout the 61,000 square feet of the building.

During the process FFKR Architects spent a lot of time reviewing mock-ups. “We had picked stones and tested it, we would see the range in stone selections,” said Jackson. “We went to the fabricator’s shop to look at the stone, I was able to go on top of a cherry picker after they laid out the stone so I could see it from above, and it was truly wonderful to see.” The construction time for the temple was three and a half years, while the announcement of the temple was first made in 2009. The entire project took seven years to finish. “The reception has been really positive for the church, and the leaders of the church love the building, feeling it represents them well,” said Rogers. “One of my partners was visiting Philadelphia and was on a hop-on hop-off bus. The bus passed by the temple and my business partner asked the tour guide about the temple, knowing full well what it was. The tour guide said it was an old building that they recently cleaned up. I took this as high praise. Because we wanted to build something that looked like it belonged and it would appear we have succeeded.”

Church of the Latter Day Saints

Philadelphia, PA

Architects: Perkins + Will, Atlanta, GA; FFKR Architects, Salt Lake City, UT

Stone Supplier: A. Lacroix Granit, Quebec, Canada (Deer Isle stone)

Stone Installer: Dan Lepore & Sons Company, Conshohocken, PA