BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 13 January 2020, (BWNS) — Work has begun on the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. The chosen site near the Ridvan garden in Akka has been prepared, and construction of the building’s foundation is progressing. During the Ridvan festival last April, the Universal House of Justice made an announcement that exhilarated the Baha’i world: the time had come to raise a befitting Shrine that would be the final resting place for the sacred remains of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Enthusiasm has mounted over the months since with the announcement of the architect and the unveiling of the design concept for a unique edifice that will honor a figure with a distinct station. While these developments occurred, construction work began with a thorough examination of the site’s ground composition and drainage, involving exploratory drilling at 29 points.
Next, to allow work with heavy machinery to progress on the soft soil even in damp winter conditions, a 50 centimeter platform of compacted stone was laid across the whole circular area—170 meters in diameter—that will enclose the Shrine and surrounding landscaping. Concrete piles have been driven 15 meters deep, on which the foundation of the central structure is now being built. At the same time, preparations have begun for the next stages of the project: detailed architectural and landscaping plans to realize the design concept are being drawn up, and a search for suitable sources of building materials is well under way. Collaboration with local authorities has been essential, whether in obtaining the necessary permits, fostering understanding of the project among neighboring residents, or working with the Israel Antiquities Authority to ensure that the rich history of the area is respected and preserved. Throughout the design process, care has been taken to account for environmental factors. The Ridvan garden, located on a low-lying plain by the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, is protected by walls and earthworks that were built several years ago to help secure the gardens against flooding. The Shrine will be built on a gently sloping berm that will raise the central structure several meters to account for rising sea levels. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was a resident of Akka for four decades. He arrived as a prisoner and an exile alongside His Father, Baha’u’llah. Despite the many tragedies and adversities He suffered there, He made Akka his home and dedicated Himself to serving the people of the city, especially its poor. In time, He came to be known and revered throughout the region. He spent the last years of His life in Haifa, and upon His passing was interred there within the Shrine of the Bab. When His earthly remains are transferred to the permanent Shrine, Akka will witness the return of a figure who left an indelible mark on that city.