Tasmanian Baha'i Center gets dome

23 July 2007

HOBART, TASMANIA, Australia — A huge dome has been lifted into place atop the new Baha'i Center of Learning on the island of Tasmania, an Australian state that lies south of the mainland.

Six years in the planning and three years in the building, the new center boasts a 300-seat auditorium and other facilities that will be used not only for core Baha'i activities but also by the wider community in Hobart, which is the state capital, and beyond.

"The circular nature of the dome will represent the never-ending cone of learning," Ann Stark of the Baha'i Council of Tasmania said in comments published in a local newspaper. "The center's facilities will be made available to the people of Tasmania."

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Construction of the new Baha'i facility in Hobart incorporates principles of energy efficiency, water conservation, and use of nontoxic and recyclable materials.

The dome was lifted by crane as a small crowd of Baha'is and others watched.

The inspiration for the center came after the death in 2000 of Soheila Mirkazemi and her son Naveed in a car accident in Hobart. The Naveed Foundation was established and has been raising the funds for the center.

Walter Jaros, another member of the Baha'i Council of Tasmania, said the goal is to open the new facility by the end of 2007. It includes a library; office space for the Baha'i regional council and for the board that will oversee the operation of the center; rooms for meetings and activities; and the large auditorium that will have stackable chairs for better flexibility in using the space, he said.

The Web site for the center says it will be used for activities exploring how to use the "insights of religion, science and the arts for ... spiritual, intellectual and social development," with a goal toward building a peaceful and sustainable world community.

In keeping with this vision, the facility was designed with an eye to achieving the highest possible standards of energy efficiency and water conservation. The principal architect was Stuart McKenzie Hall of Hobart.

Tasmania has about 250 registered Baha'is, Mr. Jaros said. The population of the state is nearly 500,000.