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MIT Chapel : One Of The Most Stunning And Mystical Structures In Massachusetts

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Tourist Attractions: MIT Chapel, One of The Most Stunning And Mystical Structures In Massachusetts

Located in Cambridge on the MIT campus, Massachusetts is the MIT Chapel, one of the most impressive and beautiful churches in America. It is a non-denominational chapel. The MIT Chapel, while not being strictly religious, is meant to be a sanctuary for solace.

Although the Chapel is a small building, it is a great example of modern architecture. MIT is home to several Protestant services and Catholic mass.

MIT Chapel

Eero Saarinen, a noted architect, designed the MIT Chapel. The chapel was completed in 1956. Saarinen also designed the landscaping of Chapel’s location along with Kresge Auditorium which is next to the chapel and the Kresge Oval.

We bring to you an overview of the design, construction and renovation of the chapel.


Eero Saarinen is one of the most respected architects of the 20th Century, often regarded as a master of his craft. Saarinen’s design of the MIT Chapel is magical.

The chapel appears from the outside as a simple brick cylinder with no windows, set within a shallow concrete moat. The building’s simple cylindrical volume has a mystical quality. The outer walls are brick, which reflect natural light.

The interiors of the chapel are very impressive. The interior walls have no windows and are made of undulating brick. The interior walls are made of undulating brick and have no windows. 

MIT Chapel

Saarinen designed the chapel to create a mystical atmosphere. He drew inspiration from his travels in Greece during the 1930s.His design for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s chapel takes on a different typology than his previous works.

The Chapel measures 50 feet (15m) in width and 30 feet (9.1m) tall, and is topped with an aluminum spire. The chapel is isolated from all the noise and bustle surrounding it by the wall and trees.

The Chapel building has a circular skylight at the center that filters light through a sculpture made by Harry Bertoia. The chapel was designed to provide solitude and prayer. The chapel’s bell tower and curving spire were designed by Theodore Roszak in 1956.

MIT Chapel

The entrance to the building is via a glass corridor. But the chapel’s threshold is marked by a significant change in the lighting conditions.

An altar made of solid marble is placed on a circular marble platform. The sanctuary is reached via two steps. There are many arched openings throughout the interior. Another interesting feature is the oculus above the altar. It resembles the Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, New York.


The landmark structure known as the MIT Chapel stood out on the West Campus. It was dedicated in 1955. Richard Maclaurin, president of MIT, inscribed the names of 115 scientists on the side of the building a few years later.

Tucked away in a small forested area on campus, the windowless chapel sits as a simple object in the Kresge Oval.

MIT Chapel

The MIT Chapel is one the most stunning structures on campus.

The Great Dome located on campus was built in 1916. This dome was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. It has been the Institute’s primary reading room.

Renovation :

In 2014, the first major renovation of the MIT Chapel was completed. The renovation was done to repair and refill the moat with water that is recirculated, and filter it, the moat was rebuilt. 

The building’s exterior envelope was restored, as well as internal restoration and improvements made to the mechanical systems. In 2015, the Chapel was reopened.

Bexley hall was destroyed and the MIT Chapel was replaced with a landscaped park. The Chapel was preserved as a sanctuary for tranquility by the renovations.

MIT Chapel

From a distance, Saarinen’s chapel appears as nothing more than a brick building that contextually aligns with the dormitories and the older buildings on campus, but it’s inside of the chapel that the true architecture takes effect. 


Walter Holtkamp, of the Holtkamp Organ Company in Cleveland, Ohio, designed the MIT chapel’s organ. It is a beautiful instrument. In the 1950s Holtkamp played a key role in the revival and development of the old school of organ-building. 

In May 1970, Ned Lagin performed an 8-channel, 4-tape-recorder electronic piece specially created for the chapel.

The Chapel organ can be used by experienced organists of the MIT community with CAC approval.


All members of the MIT Community have card access to the MIT Chapel for quiet observances that are not part of regular events. The Chapel can be used by approved groups of religious, spiritual, and ethical life. 

CAC may make arrangements for members of the MIT community to use the MIT Chapel at their personal events, such as weddings or bar/bat mitzvahs. The Chapel can seat 114 people.

CAC reviews every request for use of the Chapel on a case by case basis. They take special care to maintain the solemnity and dignity of the Chapel.

FAQs About MIT Chapel, Massachusetts

Is MIT Chapel open?

The MIT Chapel is open seven days a week from 7 am to 11 pm.

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