Archive for the ‘MIT’ Category

From Cambridge to LA

07/23/2008

On my way to LA.
So I thought I’d say “see you soon” to some of my favorite Boston and Cambridge spots. Here’s the Saarinen chapel at MIT. Don’t the electric lights above the altar look like a blue LA sky?

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Connecting heaven and earth

05/12/2008

Eero Saarinen’s non-denominational Chapel at MIT

The ‘piccolo Pantheon’ of Cambridge.

If you visit Boston this week for the AIA convention and you find you need “a place of mystic quiet,” here you are.

Steven Holl – Simmons Hall at MIT

04/28/2008

See it if you visit Boston next month for the AIA convention.

09/29/2007

A new LeWitt in Boston.

Opening at MIT.

THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE AND STAFF OF THE MIT LIST VISUAL ARTS CENTER

INVITE YOU TO JOIN THEM FOR THE DEDICATION OF
SOL LEWITT’S BARS OF COLOR WITHIN SQUARES (MIT), 2007

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2007 4:00PM

A PERCENT-FOR-ART COMMISSION FOR THE GREEN CENTER FOR PHYSICS, BUILDING 6 C

BUILDING 4-ROOM 331 MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 77 MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE Cambridge, MA 02139

Photos when it happens.
-E

03/24/2007

Saarinen and Bose?
Architecture and music?!

I was asked to describe the journey into Eero Saarinen’s chapel at MIT.

One thing that amazes me about it is how in such a small volume it moves so much air and space.

Which got me thinking about something else associated with MIT that moves a lot of air inside a small volume….

The Bose Wave
How it works.

Only because the two tunnels fold back and forth can enough air be moved in the right way to create a rich, full sound. This is hard to achieve in such a small enclosure.


Inventor Amar Bose is a famous MIT alum.

-+-+-+-+-

But the journey in. First of all, the chapel tells you before you even get in, of its Roman ancestry and its connection to its Italian cousin, the Roman Pantheon. This chapel is built of brick (also the typical Boston building material), with arches, and even an “excavated” area around it as if it were antique

To enter the Pantheon, you pass through a portico.


Here too.

The little tunnel is an important part of the journey. The contemplative space inside could not be directly connected to the rest of the world; there must be a passage to it, and in modernist spirit Saarinen also has us make a 90 degree turn just after entering the portico/tunnel. This helps to leave daily life behind. Some people say it also means the bad spirits can’t follow you.

And then once inside,

Manna-ist Architecture. The finest example of “manna-ism” in the world? It is, I suppose, rivaled for effect by another work in Rome


But back to the Modern. And its connections to the past. In Saarinen’s chapel the steps and base of the altar are Roman travertine. The altar is marble.
Too bad the eye at the top of this is not open to the sky, but that wasn’t exactly the thinking in 1955 when this went up.


The shapes connect as in classical buildings which often put patterns on the floors that reprise the ceiling and thus create a cosmos.

I wonder when we’ll see chapels, like sports stadia, with retractable domes?

And only a Modernist would make a dome with a flat roof. But here, the eye creates the dome, and the sculpture atop the building creates a top point for you.

Did you know that Aaron Copland’s “Canticle of Freedom” was commissioned by MIT for the opening of the chapel and Eero Saarinen’s nearby Kresge Auditorium?

So back to music. The Pantheon has niches in the walls, Saarinen’s walls undulate to make the space seem larger than it is and to form modern, more secular niches. The space flows gracefully around these and seems to pick up speed. It swirls around like a vortex. Does the air turn into sound waves?


That horizontal movement excites the vertical movement above the altar.

Finally, Mr. Saarinen knew his little chapel would be right across Massachusetts Avenue from


another Pantheon-like Great Dome at MIT.

-E


(Bottom photo grabbed from the web. Congrats guys, whoever you are! Going to work for Bose?)

03/22/2007

Where was I?

Comments from the last post: Cynthia said… “Saarinen’s Chapel @ MIT. Incredible.”

She’s right. Send your address to TheNewModernist.com and I’ll send you a Hello Beautiful! baseball cap poifect for Spring.

The tiny chapel is monumental. A mini-maxi Roman Pantheon.
But while the space inside the Pantheon basically carries you up and out the opening on top to ride with the g-ds; in this chapel, the conception of space is more modern. The movement of space on the inside connects heaven to earth. The light above connects to the altar on the earth, by way of the reflections off of Harry Bertoia’s screen sculpture.


Saarinen’s chapel and the Bertoia’s light-reflecting screen are old friends of mine. And I thought of it when I saw Behnisch, Behnisch and Partner’s Genzyme building, not far away, also in Cambridge, Mass; an office building highly “sustainable.” They use a similar sculpture, this one to reflect light down into the offices.

Sustainability does contain a spiritual aspect.

-E

12/22/2006

Architecture = Oprah!


My holiday card to you.

In this age of the architecture world as an intellectual version of Oprah!

Let’s pause to remember the words of John Cage, and, the man who built cages, but really nice cages,
Mr. Mies van der Rohe

One of Mies van der
Rohe’s pupils, a girl,
came to
him and said,
“I have
difficulty studying with you
because you
don’t leave any room for
self-expression.”

He asked her whether
she had a pen with
her.
She did.

He said,
“Sign your name.”
She did.

He said,
“That’s what I
call self-expression.”

Indeterminacy . text © John Cage

photo- Gehry MIT, (oder ohne?)

12/22/2006

Architecture = Oprah!


My holiday card to you.

In this age of the architecture world as an intellectual version of Oprah!

Let’s pause to remember the words of John Cage, and, the man who built cages, but really nice cages,
Mr. Mies van der Rohe

One of Mies van der
Rohe’s pupils, a girl,
came to
him and said,
“I have
difficulty studying with you
because you
don’t leave any room for
self-expression.”

He asked her whether
she had a pen with
her.
She did.

He said,
“Sign your name.”
She did.

He said,
“That’s what I
call self-expression.”

Indeterminacy . text © John Cage

photo- Gehry MIT, (oder ohne?)