MIT Chapel undergoing major maintenance and renovations

Construction process continues to affect day-to-day life

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Construction is being done to dig up and repair the Chapel moat and restore both the Chapel and Kresge Oval.
Kento Masuyama

The MIT Chapel has been temporarily closed for a substantial renovation process, which will include key restorations and upgrades to the more than half-century-old building.

The renovation work will include restoration of the stained glass walls and outside brickwork and modernization of the plumbing and ventilation systems. A major component of the renovation is the reconstruction of the moat, to which an updated filtration and water leakage prevention system will be added, according to the MIT News Office. The reconstructed moat will also help illuminate the interior of the chapel, as the moat is designed to reflect light into the chapel.

The first phase in the construction process was the demolition of the old moat, which caused some complaints from dorm residents who were affected by the early start time of the construction, according to emails from Maseeh student government to the dorm’s Area Director.

According to Matthew Bauer, the director of communications for the Division of Student Life, the noise issue was resolved relatively quickly. “Staff met with the affected communities, and accommodations were made to delay high-noise activities until later in the morning,” said Bauer in an email to The Tech.

According to the MIT News Office, temporary walkways have also been created on Kresge lawn due to the chapel construction, and a new sidewalk has been paved that cuts across the lawn.

Some MIT students have continued to feel the impact of the chapel construction process on their daily lives.

“I’d say it’s quite a bit of a hindrance getting around the construction zone, but with the construction of the new sidewalk it’s not terrible,” said Justin Xiao ’17. Xiao also felt that the construction zone was aesthetically unpleasing.

The construction process has caused some student groups, including MIT Cru and the Protestant Student Community, to temporarily relocate their activities until the construction is complete. Most activities have been moved to either the Student Center or the nearby Religious Activities Complex.

The renovation will also include a restoration of the central skylight and a complete replacement of the roof, which will require temporary removal of the spire and bell tower. All of the work on the Chapel is expected to be completed by February of the coming year, according to the MIT News Office.

The MIT Chapel was originally designed by the acclaimed architect Eero Saarinen and opened in 1955 along with the Kresge Auditorium, also designed by Saarinen.