19 Sep Baha’i Temple Welcome Center
A new Welcome Center provides a warm, welcoming point of departure for experiencing and appreciating Chicago’s Baha’i Temple.
OWA has worked with designer Scott Conrad to create a casual and inviting information and comfort station for hosting the Baha’i Temple’s 200,000 annual visitors.
The design of the Welcome Center is understated and restrained, a subservient counterpart to the Baha’i Temple itself, which is the central place of worship. Rather than competing with the Temple, the massing, materials and aesthetic language of the Welcome Center are inspired by the upscale residential architecture of the adjacent neighborhood. Subtle traces of the Arts & Crafts style harmonize with the surrounding 1920s homes without resorting to mimicry or historicism. The result is a timeless, comfortable, light-filled environment to set an inviting tone for visitors.
The relaxed environment allows the center to host a variety of guests and ensure the best experience for the Temple’s diversity of visitors. Casual tourists are provided with basic orientation and a comfort station. Visitors interested in learning more about the Baha’i Faith have access to an exhibition hall and bookstore. Devoted Baha’is making a pilgrimage to the site can congregate in the Fireside Room before visiting the Temple, or attend events and functions in the reception room.
The Welcome Center design also features an intimate landscaped courtyard and convenient, ADA compliant access to the Temple to further maximize the ease and comfort of guests.
Completed in 2013, the Welcome Center is anticipating a LEED Silver ranking, ensuring that the building is as accommodating to the environment as it is to its visitors.