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MIT Chapel Custom LED Retrofit

MIT Chapel Custom LED Retrofit

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was founded in 1861. Included on MIT’s campus is a chapel designed by famed architect Eero Saarinen.

Grand Light was selected to restore and modify the exterior and interior luminaires. The restoration of these historic fixtures included cleaning, repair of any mechanical deficiencies, removal of existing paint, an application of a new refinish with a UV resistant protective top coat. In addition to restoration, Grand Light technicians modified the luminaire to incorporate LED technology.


Shown above are interior recessed square downlights before restoration began. Each luminaire had damage to the metal frames and had amassed tremendous amounts of dirt and corrosion. Additionally each downlights’ incandescent lamp would be replaced and retrofitted with LED technology which would provide superior illumination and greater energy efficiency.

Shown above are three mockups using different LED wattages and beam spreads for testing. Each mockups’ foot candle measurements were recorded from a distance of 7′ 6″ and 8′ from the floor to stimulate the chapel hallway heights. These results were presented to the lighting designer, Horton Lees Brogden Lightning Design, to determine which LED system provided the most suitable lumen output for the chapel’s applications.

Shown above are the installation of custom reflectors to the LED module within the recessed back boxes. Each reflector was optically modified to fit perfectly to the LED module to direct the desired amount of light and distribution to the surface below. Each custom heatsink, driver, and LED module was carefully installed and tested by Grand Light technicians to ensure the highest level of quality and ease of future maintenance.

Shown above is a restored recessed square downlight with newly installed custom LED technology.

Shown above is a restored uplight with custom mounted 10 watt LED technology. A sleek custom fabricated mounting plate was installed to replace a cumbersome mounting system.

Shown above is the underside of an uplight after finish restoration by Grand Light artisans.

Shown above is a restored exterior downlight luminaire. The exterior of the downlight was refinished with multiple coats of Tiger Drylac 38 while the interior of the downlight received an application of a Akzo Nobel Solar Black patina. For optimum illumination and distribution a PAR20 LED with 2″ socket extenders was installed.

Grand Light specializes in custom designed retrofits of existing and historical luminaires where LED, Induction, HID or CFL lighting technologies are required to improve illumination performance, reduce energy costs, and expand life ratings.

For more information regarding this project, you may review the project homepage at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chapel.

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