The lotus flower is a symbol of purity in eastern religions. It is not surprising then that Iranian-born-and-educated architect Fariburz Sahba chose the flower as the design concept for the Baha'i House of Worship near New Delhi, India. The temple was designed in the shape of the newly opened flower. Over the central hall, a double-layered, 112-foot-diameter inner dome composed of 54 concrete ribs with concrete shells between rises 92 feet above white marble floors. The first of three layers of nine petals arches over the dome, 110 feet above the hall, the tips parted to allow natural light to penetrate the interior through glazed roof panels. The bases of the inner petals form nine arched portals leading from a raised entryway created by the second set of petals.
Each petal was cast in two lifts using traditional Indian methods. The methods included the amazingly efficient use of a large labor force hand-carrying 50-pound loads of concrete from a drum mixer at the site to the point of placement. The exterior surfaces of the petals, as well as the inner surface of the portal arches, were clad in white marble imported from the Mount Pentilekon quarries in Greece. Remarkably, all the marble was set by Indian carpenters who were given just 2 weeks of training before starting work.