The new Mormon temple in Orange County will be a modest 17,500 square feet, built on seven acres next to the church's Newport Beach meeting house and smaller than that brick structure, officials in Salt Lake City announced Thursday.
The exact design hasn't been finalized, but church leaders said it will reflect Los Angeles architecture in public buildings built in the 1920s and 1930s.
The details were the first revealed since the April announcement that the county will get its first Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple.
For Mormons, regular worship services are held in meeting houses. Sacred ceremonies, including baptisms and weddings, are reserved for the temple, which is seen as a bridge between heaven and Earth.
Orange County's 45,000 Mormons now have to drive to temples in Los Angeles or San Diego for holy ceremonies.
California has four temples, with three more, including Newport Beach's, on the drawing boards.
The temple's cost still hasn't been determined, church officials said.
Mormon leaders said they soon will meet with residents who live near the temple site and hope to break ground by year's end. The plans need approval of the city of Newport Beach.
The proposed one-level building at Bonita Canyon Drive and Prairie Road reflects the new generation of Mormon temples that are significantly smaller than their predecessors.
For example, the $24-million San Diego temple completed in 1994 is more than 80,000 square feet.
The Newport Beach temple will be two-thirds the size of the neighboring Mormon meeting house, which is 28,500 square feet. But church officials said the light-colored temple will match the 35-foot height of the adjacent building and stand out against the meeting house's dark brick exterior.
"The Irvine Co. [developer of homes in the area] is encouraging us to match and blend in, but it's important for us to stand out as light," said Joseph I. Bentley, a spokesman for the church.
Use of smaller buildings has allowed the church to construct more than 90 temples in the past decade for its approximately 11 million members. Before the building spree, the church had only 15 temples worldwide.
"The announcement of the [Newport Beach] temple was the biggest thing to [Orange County Mormons] in the history of California," Bentley said. "The most sacred things on Earth will happen there."