MIT Chapel and Kresge Auditorium


Cambridge, MA

View of Chapel Moat and Auditorium beyond
Chapel exterior
Chapel interior
Chapel interior
view of auditorium
Auditorium detail
Auditorium lobby and entrance
auditorium interior

As hallmarks of West Campus, the MIT Chapel and Kresge Auditorium have anchored the Cambridge neighborhood since 1955. Designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the buildings reflect the district’s creative community spirit. EYP’s meticulous renovation preserves each design’s historic legacy and strengthens the iconic structures to stand as architectural marvels that can pass the test of time.

An unassuming brick cylinder from the outside, the MIT Chapel reflects Saarinen’s trademark dynamic and fluid design. Inside, visitors are transported to a breathtaking chapel centered around a waterfall of natural light that invokes a spiritual experience. EYP’s renovation of the MIT Chapel adds to the comfort of students and community members seeking spiritual solace by updating the building’s HVAC systems and improving the structure’s weatherability throughout the seasons. Modernizing the building’s heating and cooling systems improved energy performance while honoring the building’s original character, ensuring the spiritual center of campus inspires students for generations to come.

As in many of Saarinen’s later projects, he designed the landscaping around the chapel. The chapel itself is set inside a shallow moat, which the team carefully restored, adding a new water-circulating and filtration system. The entrance bridge that crosses the moat is clad with stained glass. Restoration included repairing, restoring, and protecting the glass, carefully reinstalling each piece in its original location.

Intended as the “Meetinghouse of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,” the Kresge Auditorium encompasses a 1,200-seat performance hall and a 200-seat theater to serve the theatrical needs of the MIT community. Not only does it feature performances from students, but it also hosts the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra and the New England Philharmonic. The auditorium is defined by its iconic shell-structured roof and a narrow sightline curtain-wall system. The team replaced the original aluminum glazing frames with new, matching stainless steel and high-performance laminated glass to improve energy performance. EYP’s renovation also updated the performance venue’s accessibility and safety to modernize the theater experience for all users.

Building Facts

  • 50,000 GSF restoration & renewal

Awards & Honors

  1. Honor Award, Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse

    AIA New England

  2. Preservation Award

    Cambridge Historical Commission

  3. American Architecture Award

    Chicago Athenaeum

  4. Paul & Niki Tsongas Award, The Power of Preservation 2017 Award

    Preservation Massachusetts

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