2021 TWiM Temple Awards: The Winners

2021 Temple Awards Winners-min
You've spoken. Here are the best temple designs of 2021.

The year 2021 has been has been another notable year year in temple building history in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Similar to the year 2020, a plethora of new temple designs have been released by the church. In 2021, the Church has released 25 new temple designs. Now it’s time to view the results of the voting for temple of the year

“Best” in this case refers primarily to architectural components and temple location. We recognize that no temple is actually better than another for what it is –The House of the Lord. But we can still rank the appearance of each one! Check out the results from 2020.

Best Appeal to Local Heritage

Winner: Querétaro México

Runner-Up: Yorba Linda California

Honorable Mentions: Belo Horizonte Brazil, Salvador Brazil

In this category, Spanish and Portuguese architecture cleaned up. The Querétaro México temple will feature Baroque motifs, interesting parapets, a sky blue cupola, and topped with a totally not Moroni-gold spire. The design is very fitting for the temple district that includes historic cities such as LeónGuanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende. Earlier this year, I wrote about the design for the Salvador Brazil Temple:

Before the 2010s, it appears the church had been hesitant to design a temple that could be confused as looking remotely Catholic. This temple joins the temples in TijuanaConcepciónBarranquillaArequipaPueblaSan Pedro SulaSaltaMcAllen, and Antofagasta for explicitly embracing Spanish/Portuguese colonial architecture.

Winner: Belo Horizonte Brazil

Runner-Up: Provo Utah (Renovation)

Honorable Mentions: Syracuse Utah, Lindon Utah 

In addition to Portuguese colonial, Brazil has a heritage of Art Deco Modern architecture. This can be seen in the Rio De Janeiro Brazil Temple (which has recently had a dedication announced after nearly a two year delay). Now the Art Deco is coming to Belo Horizonte (make sure to pronounce it in Portuguese like President Nelson). The temple resembles a one-story adaption of the Cardston Alberta and Meridian Idaho Temples which draws inspiration from the inspiration from the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition, a number of Art Deco motifs make this temple uniquely Brazilian.  

The name of this award is a uniquely fit for the new design of the Provo Utah Temple. With the classical columns, architectural friezes, and arched stained glass windows, the modern neo-classical design is a departure from its strictly modern design. Farewell to the Danish Ellipse.

Winner: Nairobi Kenya 

Runner-Up: Port Vila Vanuatu 

Honorable Mentions: Tarawa KiribatiHelena Montana 

The long awaited Nairobi Kenya Temple is the last temple announced by President Monson in 2017 to begin construction. Although it is a simple design, there are a number of motifs on on the windows that make it feel uniquely Kenyan. Hopefully the temple will help dispel rumors of devil worship that are prevalent in the area

The other temples in this category represent a leap forward for temple designs. The Helena Montana Temple is the first temple to be be built with a prefabricated modular design. (See the latest photos). The twin temples of the small pacific nations also appear to be using this design, although construction has not yet begun. 

Winner: Nairobi Kenya

Runner-Ups: Tarawa Kiribati, Port Vila Vanuatu

Honorable Mention: Belo Horizonte Brazil 

This award went to the temple that serves a region that has to travel lengthy distances to attend the closest temple. The results of this award are very similar to that of the last award. Latter-day Saints in Kenya must drive 56 hours (minimum) crossing several international boundaries to get to South Africa or buy an expensive plane ticket to attend the temple. The Saints in the island nations of Kiribati and Vanuatu are also extremely isolated from the nearest temple. 

Winner: Yorba Linda California 

Runner-Up: Provo Utah (Renovation)

Honorable Mentions: Syracuse Utah, Smithfield Utah

Earlier this year, Geoff Openshaw wrote this about the design of the Yorba Linda California Temple: 

 The overall floor plan and dimensions appear to be the same as many of the temple’s other 20-temple-announcement stablemates from April 2021, but the exterior is a whole different deal. In a sea of anonymously contemporary temple designs, this one certainly stands out and is very California. One could argue it looks a bit too much like a civic center, library, or any number of faux-Spanish municipal buildings dotting the Orange County landscape. But this author still thinks it looks great, even better than the faux-Mission style of the Newport Beach Temple (itself borne out of necessity and compromise). It will also be nearly twice the size of the temple in Newport Beach. Take that, Fletcher Jones Motorcars!

Winner: Belo Horizonte Brazil 

Runner-Up: Querétaro México

Honorable Mentions: Salvador Brazil, Cali Colombia 

Belo Horizonte again! Also notable is the Cali Colombia Temple, which will be counted among the smallest temples of the church at 9,500 square feet. 

Winner: Bacolod Philippines 

Runner-Up: Nairobi Kenya 

Honorable Mentions: Cape Town South Africa, Tarawa Kiribati

The Bacolod Philippines temple also stands out as being heavily influenced by Spanish Colonialism. Those Spaniards really got around. It will join the two existing temples, and the five others under construction or announced. 

Winner: Belo Horizonte Brazil 

Runner-Up: Yorba Linda California 

Honorable Mentions: Cali Colombia, Casper Wyoming 

I think we’ve seen these before, no surprise here. Also notable is the Casper Wyoming temple, which will be the second prefabricated modular temple in the United States after Helena. 

Winner: Syracuse Utah 

Runner-Up: Provo Utah (Renovation)

Honorable Mentions: Querétaro México, Salvador Brazil 

So far, the Syracuse Utah Temple stands out as a unique design compared to all the new designs this year. The curved walls harken back to the Rome Italy Temple. The long rectangular structure sits on larger base floor that will house two baptistries, the first new temple to do so. The upcoming temple in Lindon (and probably Smithfield) will also house two baptistries in a basement floor. 

Winner: Belo Horizonte Brazil 

Runner-Up: Syracuse Utah 

Honorable Mentions: Yorba Linda California, Querétaro México

Belo Horizonte Takes it! After reviewing the results of each of the categories, it should be no surprise that Belo Horizonte did well overall. It placed in every category in which it was nominated. 

Congratulations to everyone that will be blessed from these temples. No matter how each temple appears, all offer the same blessings to everyone who aspires to enter. Thanks for voting and for reading This Week in Mormons. Let’s all hope 2022 will be a great year for the progress of temple work around the globe.

If you are interested reading more  about our coverage of Latter-day Saint Temples, check out these articles that highlight new and continuous developments in temple construction and operation from 2021:

If you are interested in where additional temples may be built in the coming years, check out this data driven approach to temple predictions. Also, review the April and October temples predictions pages for more commentary. 

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