Renowned architect David Adjaye visited the MIT campus on several occasions in 2015-16, as part of his Eugene McDermott Award residency. On one of his visits, Adjaye spoke with CAST about a magnificent small building here on campus, the MIT Chapel. “If the campus is a sentence, then the chapel is the full stop that makes you pause,” he says.
Built by Eero Saarinen in 1955, the chapel recently underwent a substantial renovation that included key restorations and upgrades to the exterior and interior of the building and to the surrounding moat. In this interview, Adjaye discusses his first visit to the MIT Chapel as an architecture student in the mid-1990s researching faith-based spaces; Saarinen’s use of materials for functional and emotional purposes; how the special confluence of brick, wood, light and water creates atmosphere and conveys a profound narrative; the building’s relationship to the surrounding landscape and to Kresge Auditorium, also by Saarinen; and how ideas expressed in Saarinen’s architecture have influenced his own work.