Award of Excellence: Longevity Category
The Restoration of the Baha'i House of Worship
Submitted by The Armbruster Company
Baha’i National Center
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
BASF Building Systems
Downers Grove, Illinois
The Baha’i House of Worship, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the nation’s finest examples of architectural concrete. As the first Baha’i Temple in the Western world, this House of Worship holds a singular position for the Baha’is; they want the structure to serve for more than 1000 years.
A comprehensive program corrected defective details of the initial construction 20 years ago and restored the temple’s remarkable concrete to its original, brilliant condition. The architectural concrete restoration established new levels of achievement for engineering, craftsmanship, and materials. The concrete repairs have performed flawlessly and continue to look as if they were completed just yesterday.
The concrete restoration included a meticulous cleaning completed over a 3-year period. The scope of work called for concrete repairs matching the original pattern, material composition, color, and texture of the ornamental concrete, while improving upon the original construction details and using modern technology to provide extended life. The concrete repair mixture included crushed quartz aggregate, crushed quartz and silica sand, white cement, water-reducing admixtures, and an air-entraining agent. Multi-piece rubber and fiberglass molds created sculpted, ornamental repairs.
Customized hoisting and access systems were designed for the project and remain part of the building’s equipment inventory.
A photogrammetric survey of the entire exterior and interior surfaces of the temple was performed so that any point on the concrete can be located in three dimensions within 0.125 in. (3 mm). The resulting data can produce an accurate model for the mold-makers in the centuries ahead.
After 20 years of exposure to the harsh, Midwestern weather on the shore of Lake Michigan, the concrete repairs are in outstanding condition. The restoration of the Baha’i House of Worship demonstrates that concrete repairs can be enduringly beautiful.