The design of the mosque was selected in the early 1960s, reflecting to many’s surprise, the enlightment of Malaysia’s new leadership, and the welcoming of a new and modern interpretation of mosque architectural design, presented by a team of architects from the Public Works Department. Headed by architects, Baharuddin Abu Kassim and Hisham al-Bakri, under the supervision of a British architect, Howard Ashley, the construction work was completed in 1965. In 1990, the mosque was undergoing further extension to accommodate up to 15,000 worshippers at one time.
Unlike the architectural style of many colonial buildings in Malaysia which has an influence from the Mughal architectural style, the design of the National Mosque reflects a modern interpretation of traditional Malay architecture in which the main prayer hall is located on the first floor, similar to the living hall of a Malay kampong house. Meanwhile, its main dome is of a contemporary style in which its structure resembles a semi-opened umbrella with 18 folded plates. Besides, its 73 meter-high minaret resembles a folded umbrella. This three-storey mosque complex also comprises of a dedicated female prayer hall, outdoor prayer areas, royal antechamber, conference hall, offices and classrooms. The main entrance of the mosque is accessible through the main courtyard. Adjacent to the mosque complex is an annexe building of Makam Pahlawan in which the Malaysian second Prime Minister and other political figures were buried. This building is marked by seven-folded plate of an umbrella roof.
The national mosque is by far a timeless modern structure of Malaysian architecture that continued to serve as an Islamic community centre for 50 years. It is regarded as one of the country’s prominent landmarks and a renowned national monument.