Founded in 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) did not have a chapel until 1955. Designed by prominent architect Eero Saarinen and paired with his famous Kresge Auditorium nearby, the chapel was designed to meet the religious and spiritual needs of everyone on the MIT campus. The interdenominational chapel, which holds just over 100 people, was intended for small services, individual meditation and prayer, while the large (4000 seat) Kresge Auditorium was built to accommodate community gatherings, musical events, and lectures that celebrate the human spirit through the arts and humanities.
Designed as a brick cylinder that recalls Byzantine churches like San Vitale in Ravenna, the chapel is entered through a stained glass walkway. The sanctuary itself has just one window, a domed skylight, through which light spills onto an altar, platform and metal screen created by mid-century sculptor (and Saarinen friend) Harry Bertoia. An organ with more than 750 pipes is inside the chapel, and an inscription just outside the main door reads, “This building gives embodiment to the responsibility of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to maintain an atmosphere of religious freedom wherein students may deepen their understanding of their own spiritual heritage, freely pursue their own religious interests, and worship God in their own way. Dedicated May 1955.” The spire and bell tower (with a bell fabricated in the MIT foundry) are the work of Theodore Roszak.
Recently renovated, the MIT chapel is open from 7am to 11pm and hosts gatherings that range from Catholic mass to multiple Protestants services to Shabbat services and small-group or individual meditation. MIT chaplains from a range of backgrounds support student groups in these gatherings.
For more information: http://studentlife.mit.edu/cac/event-services-spaces/event-spaces/mit-chapel