I finally got the chance to go purchase a few paint brushes at the art store… and painted some sketches that were just waiting to be “dressed.” Above is a drawing and painting of the MIT Chapel in Cambridge by Eero Saarinen. I did this sketch a couple days after arriving in Cambridge. The scale and exterior of the chapel is lovely… but enter its doors, and you are transported to a place you would never imagine! The effect reminds me of the Donau City Church in Vienna. Classics like this reminds me that architecture is not all about decoration, “weird,” difficult to build forms, and angles. It is the study, marriage, and manipulation of “simple” geometries with light, shade, addition, subtraction, tectonics, and more. This building is made of simple forms, art, texture, context, connection, rigor, and story.
“Completed in 1955, the MIT Chapel is a simple cylindrical volume that has a complex and mystical quality within. Saarinen’s simple design is overshadowed by the interior form and light that were meant to awaken spirituality in the visitor. The non-denominational chapel is … a place of solitude and escape that induces a process of reflections. The windowless chapel is surrounded by a shallow concrete moat that seeps into the interior around a series of low arches that provide the structure for the chapel. Once inside, the visitor is transported to a completely unexpected interior space that is unknown from the exterior façade. The interior is inundated with a high level of detail and atmospheric qualities that are enhanced by filtered natural light.Due to the windowless façade, the interior of the chapel is completely masked by the exterior of the volume. Unlike the smooth uninterrupted façade, the interior brick walls undulate around the circumference of the chapel, which creates a new spatial dynamic that is illuminated by the moat that slips into the interior from outside.
Above the white marble altar, is a metal sculpture by Harry Bertoia that hangs from the skylight that shimmers in the sunlight reflecting and distributing light into the interior of the chapel. The sculpture appears as a cascading waterfall of light that is constantly adjusting, moving, and redefining the interior of the chapel.”
Abstract Architecture of the day:
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.