Just off the highway that leads to the town of Columbus, Indiana, the most slender of spires shoots upward from the tree line. With only a small gold cross at the top suggesting its purpose, the spire seems to belong to another world, an expressive gesture reaching into the sky that extends far beyond its visible tip. As visitors approach, the base of the spire fans out and merges with the ground, subsuming it and metaphysically bridging the distance between the heavens and the Earth. This is the famous North Christian Church, Eero Saarinen’s stunning discourse on God, nature and architecture.
Eero Saarinen is one of the most respected architects of the 20th Century, often regarded as a master of his craft. Known for his dynamic and fluid forms, his design for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s chapel takes on a different typology than his previous works. 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.