All of the teachings of the Baha’i Faith revolve around the concept of oneness. There is one God, Who created one human family, and Who sends us divine educators from age to age to revive the spirit of love and create greater unity among people.

The architecture of the Baha’i House of Worship embodies the concept of oneness.


Enjoy a look at how the architectural features of the House of Worship illustrate Baha’i concepts of oneness.

The second video showcases the stunning beauty of the House of Worship in all four seasons.

The House of Worship in all

Rain or shine, the House of Worship gardens offer a peaceful and refreshing transition into the Temple.

Louis Bourgeois bahai architect

The Architect

Long before he had heard of the Baha’i Faith, French Canadian architect Louis Bourgeois (1856-1930) believed that his mission in life was to create a universal temple to Truth as a gathering place for all humanity.

Bourgeois became a Baha’i in New York City in 1907, and two years later responded to the call for designs for the Temple. In 1920, delegates from across the country unanimously selected his innovative design. Bourgeois traveled to Haifa (in present-day Israel) to consult with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. With ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s encouragement, Bourgeois refined and scaled down the size of his design.

Baha’i principles are communicated throughout the design. For example, to illustrate the Baha’i belief in the unity of religion, Bourgeois brought together elements of religious architecture from around the world. The Temple’s arabesque panels embrace natural light during the day and illuminate from within at night, creating a “Temple of Light and Unity.”

bahai temple design
bahai house of worship construction
bahai house of worship construction

The Craftsmen

Transforming the architect’s intricate designs into a stable structure required innovation in both building materials and construction techniques. Architect Louis Bourgeois consulted with John Earley, an expert in ornamental concrete, about constructing the dome from cast concrete panels mounted on a steel superstructure. To achieve Bourgeois’ vision of the whitest possible surface, Earley experimented with white Portland cement combined with crushed quartz.

The Gardens

The Baha’i House of Worship gardens are part of the sacred space. The nine gardens are planted with foliage of various colors and fragrances to convey the beauty of unity in diversity. The nine rectangular approaches to the Temple, some incorporating reflecting pools, are reminiscent of those found in the East. The nine circular gardens, with round fountains, represent Western landscapes and serve as outdoor rooms for prayer.

The Temple

The Temple project took 50 years and continued through two World Wars and the Great Depression. The building was financed entirely by voluntary contributions from Baha’is around the world.

More than five thousand people gathered for dedication services as the Baha’i House of Worship was opened to the public on May 2, 1953. This video shows excerpts of the devotional service held that day with readings from five major religions.

Visit the Baha’i House of Worship


Not in Chicagoland? Find a Baha’i prayer gathering near you. >

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