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MIT Chapel (Bldg. W15)

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Bldg. W15
1955, Eero Saarinen; 2000 renovation, Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates. Access to rear via 48 Massachusetts Ave.
  • Chapel (Bldg. W15)

The exterior cylindrical form, of rough water-struck red brick, is almost pure, minimal sculpture, which is crowned with a steel spire bell tower by Theodore Roszak that hardly prepares one for the experience within. A quasi-mystical atmosphere is created in this small 130-seat non-denominational chapel. Contributing to its spellbinding effect is the illumination. From below, changing light patterns are reflected through the irregularly shaped arches of the undulating brick base that rests on a watery moat; from above, an oculus casts a shimmering glow on Harry Bertoia's ephemeral screen of metal rods and cross plates, the sole ornament above the altar. Entrance to this retreat is via a narrow low-ceiling narthex, a transitional passage, which heightens the meditative spirit one senses upon entering the chapel proper—a small space with immense power to transport one beyond the quotidian life of MIT.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Keith N. Morgan
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Citation

Keith N. Morgan, "MIT Chapel (Bldg. W15)", [Cambridge, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MA-01-MT14.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 307-307.

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