The Bahá’í religion is the youngest independent religion in the world, founded in Iran in 1844 and has 6 million believers worldwide. The belief was officially introduced in the United States during the World’s Religions meeting in Chicago in 1893. In 1903, a plan emerged to construct a Baha’i temple; however, the two world wars delayed the construction. The French-Canadian architect Louis Bourgeois, who converted to the Bahá’í faith, began working on the Baha’i House of Worship in 1920 in Wilmette, Illinois. The construction was finally over in 1953, but unfortunately, neither Bourgeois nor the stone carver John Earley who made the intricate details could not live until then.
The architect of the Baha’i House of Worship integrated universal symbols into the intricate façade of the structure, reflecting the Baha’i belief in the unity of all religions.
Bourgeois merged architectural styles from different periods and cultures while designing the temple. He used neoclassical symmetry, Gothic ribbing, Renaissance dome, Romanesque entresol, and also Islamic tracery. There are also the symbols of various religions on the façade such as the Star of David, crosses, and the Islamic star and crescent.
Today, there are only nine Baha’i temples that share certain architectural features. For example, all Baha’i temples are nonagonal as the number nine signifies oneness and unity in Baha’i belief. Accordingly, the Baha’i House of Worship, the oldest of its kind, has nine sides as well as nine entrances and nine alcoves.