In 1921 The Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois began constriction and in 1953 it was completed and opened for services. There are Bahá’í Houses of Worship all over the world- each is different, but share mutual design principles. The Bahai Temple in Wilmette, Illinois is a 10 minute drive from my house and, in my opinion, one of the most magnificent and awe-inspiring buildings ever. The height of the structure, stark white stone, circular shape, and manicured grounds creates an exquisite contrast against the clear blue and Lake Michigan, which the Bahá’í overlooks.
There is only one main entrance to the grounds and House of Worship, this entrance is on a small side street that is made of rugged, old brick. Bahá’í was created on radial axes; axes that all lead to one focal point- The House of Worship. This produces a very dramatic effect; not only do all pathways line up directly with a doorway to The Bahá’í, but it’s symmetrical and repetitive, which is a representation of the cycle of life. The entrance path has a long still pool of water with a tiny waterfall at the end- the effect is peaceful and inviting. The other gardens or “rooms” alternate between grass with a hedge on either side or a circular fountain with formal plantings. From an aerial view you can clearly see the symmetry and repetition, this is apparent in most Bahá’í Houses of Worship over the world. To encompass this gorgeous space there is a large circular path that goes around the outside of the gardens and then there is a smaller circular path that goes around the building- these two paths connect by way of the gardens. Some plants I saw were Junipers, Boxwoods, Hydrangeas (specifically oak-leaf hydrangeas) and Roses. These plants were also repeated throughout each garden segment.
The grounds are just one part of this space- the building is a tremendous piece of art in its own. The amount of detail and precision that went into constructing The Bahá’í is unfathomable to me. There are great stone steps that wrap around and a repeating symbol is carved into the side of the building. This symbol is also seen on the inside, over and over again.
The circular structure, the repetition, and the formality of the space is comforting; the circles are endless and you know what you know what to expect, but at the same time you’re still wondering what’s going to be around a bend. It’s a wonderful place to visit and explore- I’ve been to The Bahá’í House of Worship several times but I’ve never looked at it as a landscape and explored the way things were arranged. I appreciate this space even more now, which I didn’t think was even possible.