The church doesn't dictate or speak much about the meaning of architectural symbols, which must instead come from the scriptures, words of the prophets and personal revelation, Brinkerhoff said during his address at Brigham Young University on Wednesday.
The address, "Finding Meaning in Sacred Architecture," was part of the David M. Kennedy Center lecture series.
Church members don't have a book to explain the symbols to them, but temple architects do, he said.
An associate professor of photography at BYU, Brinkerhoff said the symbols are there to teach and to be interpreted personally. His quest to learn more about religious symbolism in sacred structures has taken him to some 40 countries the past six years, often with students in BYU's "Sacred Places" project. He also interviewed several LDS temple architects.