Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Kresge Auditorium

Exterior Lighting Restoration 

Project Info

Job Site Cambridge, MA

Project Description

Constructed in 1955, Kresge Auditorium was dedicated to serve as the meeting house of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This elegant thin-shell structured building, designed by Eero Saarinen of TWA Flight Center fame, draws visitors from all around the world today. Built side by side with the MIT Chapel, the Kresge Auditorium is home to formal events for both students and faculty. The roof was originally covered with orastone, but was later replaced by lead sheeting with stainless steel wires, and eventually copper. The interior holds 1,200 seats within the performance hall, 200 seats within the theatre, as well as a number of dress and rehearsal rooms. The Kresge Auditorium serves primarily as performance facilities for MIT Music and Theatre Arts productions, as well as a meeting space for many student organizations.

Grand Light restored sixty-seven historic exterior downlights. Each downlight was received by Grand Light with significant staining to the current finish due to the accumulation of bird excrement. The interior of each fixture had also accumulated a diverse collection of twigs, dirt, and feathers as a result of birds nesting. Each downlight was cleaned of all foreign material and media blasted to remove all of the existing finish in preparation for a black matte powder coat finish. All wires were replaced and rewired in accordance to UL standards and the lamps were upgraded to modern LED lighting technology.

In addition to finish deterioration, inspection of each downlight revealed significant metal rot on a large number of the fixtures. Additional metal work was required to repair and/or replace the corroded metal to match existing components.

Project Accolades

“Because of the building’s unique circumstances, the project required a broad-based “design-assist” approach involving the collaborative work of many design and fabrication specialists.”

“The American Institute of Architects has a long tradition of recognizing individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements in support of the profession of architecture and the AIA.”

“The primary purpose in renovating both Kresge and the Chapel was to provide increased weather-ability, better energy performance, and increased safety, comfort and accessibility – while reinforcing and enhancing the historic character of each building.”


Grand Light artisans repair/replace the corroded metal surface on the MIT Kresge Auditorium downlights.

Project Updates

Project Case Study

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