Designed by Canadian Louis Bourgeois, the building was dedicated on May 1, 1953, over thirty years after the cornerstone was laid by Abdu’l Baha, son of Bahá’u’lláh (the prophet-founder of the faith). Today, the temple is undergoing various seen and unseen renovations as part of the Baha’i-funded Kingdom Project.
There are currently seven Baha’i Houses of Worship in the world. Each temple has its own distinctive design, and yet conforms to a set of architectural requirements that give a unifying theme. All Baha’i Houses of Worship must have nine sides and a central dome.Construction of the Baha’i House of Worship for the North American Continent in Wilmette, Ill. was completed in 1953. On the lower level of the House of Worship is Foundation Hall (the oldest part of the temple) and the Cornerstone Room, which contains the cornerstone laid by Abdu’l-Baha in 1912. The auditorium features walls of lace-like ornamentation and a dome rising 135 feet above the main floor.
Baha’is believe:•the purpose of life is to know and worship God, to acquire virtues, to promote the oneness of humankind and to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization •all humanity was created by one God and is part of one human race •work performed in the spirit of service is a form of worship •the soul, created at the moment of conception, is destined by God to reach the afterlife, where it will continue to progress until it attains the presence of God .
Baha’is practice:•daily prayer and communion with God •high moral principles, including trustworthiness, chastity and honesty •independent investigation of truth •a life dedicated to the service of humanity •fellowship with the followers of all religions •avoidance of excessive materialism, partisan politics, backbiting, alcohol, drugs and gambling
Baha’i Houses of Worship feature no depictions of figures of the faith, both because Baha’is avoid portraying the founders in art forms and as a sign of respect for other faiths. Baha’i temples are meant to serve as places of interfaith activity, where all people of faiths can worship God.
Arabic phrase in the center of the dome (a Baha’i symbol known as the Greatest Name that reads “O Glory of the Most Glorious!”); a few lines from the writings of Bahá’u’lláh bordering the tops of the building’s interior walls; and nine-pointed stars, a symbol commonly used by Baha’is to represent their faith.