Project: Bahá'í Mother Temple for South America

Client: The International Bahá'í Community

Architect: Hariri Pontarini Architects—Siamak Hariri (partner-in-charge); Michael Boxer (associate-in-charge); Justin Ford, Adriana Balen, Tiago Masrour, Tahirih Viveros, George Simionopoulos, Mehrdad Tavakkolian, Jaegap Chung, Naomi Kriss, Donald Peters (project team)

Consultants: Soheil Mosun (custom architectural manufacturer); Trow Associates (building science); Juan Grimm (landscape)

Engineers: Carruthers & Wallace (structural engineer)—Chris Andrews (principal); Gunnar Heisler Engineer (mechanical/electrical engineer)

A one-third-acre lot in Santiago, Chile.

A temple for gatherings of the Bahá'í faith, with a main sanctuary capable of seating 600 worshippers, nine alcoves for private or small-group meditation, a mezzanine, and nine exterior prayer gardens.

Hariri Pontarini's design is the winner of a two-phase international competition that challenged entrants to consider a sacred space that does not conform to the architectural typologies of any other religion. The Bahá'í faith requires its temples to have nine sides and a dome, among other particulars, but they are not designed to accommodate specific rituals or even clergy.

For the Santiago temple, which serves all of South America, Hariri Pontarini designed a dome of nine translucent alabaster and cast-glass sails, which will be manufactured abroad and transported to the site. Bronze tracery and woodwork ornament the 100-foot-high main interior space, which is encircled by a continuous mezzanine of cast concrete.

The footprint of the building occupies only 8,600 square feet. A lily pond and nine prayer gardens occupy the remainder of the site.

The Architect

Firm: Hariri Pontarini Architects, Toronto

Principal: Siamak Hariri

Employees: More than 30

Year Founded: 1994

Recent Work: Student Services Center, York University, Toronto