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ACI 124.

1 R-92
(Reapproved 1997)
An abstract:
Esthetics in Concrete
Slide Module S.01-92


Repotted by ACI Committee 124
Mary K. Hurd

Phillip J. Arnold Russell S. Fling Peter Smith

William M. Avery C. Stewart Gloyd Stewart C. Watson
Robert C. Bates Harry M. Palmbaum Bruce R. Wellek
Charles M. Dabney Michael J. Paul

Consulting members:

Jose A. Fernandez Ordonez J .G. Richardson Lynn Olson Paul Ritter

Bahai House of Worship is a slide and text module that presents an example of concrete experienced
esthetically. Twenty color slides are interpreted in the accompanying text folder that describes design and
construction of the structure. Historic notes and listed references guide the user to more in-depth
information about the building.
The Bahai Temple on Sheridan Road in Wilmette, Illinois, is just north of Evanston and Chicago. Lake
Michigan can be seen from its eastern entrance. It is the North American home for a faith originating in
Persia in the mid-1800s. Construction of the Temple was started in 1921. With many difficulties including
a fire during construction and delay caused by World War II, the building was finally dedicated in 1953.
The nine-sided building is topped by a magnificent dome, consisting of a precast concrete outer shell,
supported on a central steel superstructure with an aluminum and glass watershed inside of it. Inside the
weather barrier is a second intricately pierced shell of white precast concrete. Two tiers, each with nine
graceful pylons, complement and appear to support the dome structure. Intertwined detail in the precast
exposed aggregate concrete of the pylons contains symbols representing the worlds great religions.
Architect Louis Bourgeois and Bahai planners originally expected the structure to be built of orna-
mental plaster, but John J. Earley Studios submitted a lower bid for precast concrete, which all agreed
would be preferable for appearance, cleanliness, and permanence. The buildings surface reveals a close
attention to consistent size of the exposed quartz aggregate. John Earley devised a formula using white
cement and precisely gap-graded white and translucent quartz. In brilliant sunlight, or at night under
floodlights, the Bahai Temple is seen as a resplendent and luminous structure due to the reflective quality
of the quartz aggregate and the color of the cement.

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