CAC MIT Chapel
The MIT Chapel was designed by famed architect Eero Saarinen and dedicated in May 1955 alongside Saarinen’s Kresge Auditorium. The cylindrical building’s unique and graceful design was intended to meet the needs of all faiths and continues to serve as a place for worship for a diverse MIT community.
The building’s unique appearance was new to a campus that had previously employed a more classical architecture style. After some criticism, Saarinen explained that the chapel’s windowless cylinder “implied the self-contained, inward-feeling which was desirable” for a place of worship. He noted that its undulating interior walls promoted good acoustics as well as an “enclosed feeling.”
A stained glass entryway leads to the chapel, the centerpiece of which is a solid marble altar placed in the center of a circular marble platform. A metal sculpture by Harry Bertoia reflects light from the only window in the chapel, a beautiful domed skylight. The Chapel also features a 1300-pound bell cast at MIT in the Metals Processing Laboratory and a 768-pipe organ designed by Walter Holtkamp.
The MIT Chapel is open seven days a week from 7 am to 10 pm. When nothing is scheduled during those times, it is open to members of the MIT Community for private meditation. Only religious groups approved by the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life may use the Chapel for religious services. Sororities and fraternities can hold initiation ceremonies as well. However, it is also available to members of the MIT community for personal events such as weddings, baptisms, bar/bat mitzvahs, and memorial services. Experienced organists from the MIT community may use the Chapel organ with approval from CAC. The Chapel normally seats 114 people, but extra folding chairs can be brought in to accommodate up to 140 people. Since the Chapel is sacred ground to many religions, any request to use the Chapel for a non-religious activity is reviewed on a case-by-case basis by CAC with special care to preserve the sanctity of the Chapel.