The Baha’i Temple

The Baha’i Temple
Wilmette, Illinois

Architects: Louis Bourgeois, John Joseph Earley, Washington, DC
Contractor: Earley Studio, Rosslyn, Virginia

The Baha’i Temple, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is regarded as one of the fines examples of architectural concrete in the world.

Architect Louis Bourgeois’s concept for a temple of light was sleceted to create the intricate design of the structure in a 1920 architectural competition. When his design was chosen, the architect was unsure about which material would make his dream a reality. Just two months after selecting exposed aggregate for his creation, he passed away, and John Earley Studio ultimately executed the design in brillant white exposed aggregate concrete.

Earley Studios worked from Bourgeois’ drawings and produced elaborate plaster molds for both precast panels and cast-in-place components. The studio decided that no defects would be acceptable in the dome’s panels and of the 387 pieces made, none were rejected.

Preservation of the structure is challenging. The problems of weathering, pollution, surface erosion, trapped moisture, joint deterioration and efflorescence result in perpetual restoration work. However, the exceptional workmanship and materials that gave life to the architectural concrete on the Baha’i Temple have also endowed it with durability for the future and will preserve this unique house of worship for many generations.