Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kresge Auditorium (Building W16)

Cambridge, MA

Market: Cultural




2017 Silver Award for Engineering Excellence, American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts
2017 Excellence in Architecture Award for Rehabilitation, Restoration or Preservation, Society for College and University Planning/AIA-CAE
2017 Best Use - Educational & Institutional, Arts & Culture, Preservation Massachusetts
2017 American Architecture Award, The Chicago Anthenaeum of Architecture and Design
2016 Preservation Award, Cambridge Historical Commission
2016 Honor Award, AIA New England
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kresge Auditorium (Building W16)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kresge Auditorium (Building W16)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kresge Auditorium (Building W16)

Designed by Eero Saarinen and dedicated in 1955, Kresge Auditorium (Building W16) is an iconic mid-century modernist venue for gatherings, classes, and performances. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) undertook a major renewal project at the auditorium to replace aging equipment and systems, restore key building elements, and improve visitor comfort. SGH consulted on the building enclosure and was the structural engineer for the project.


Scope | Solutions


MIT wanted to improve the building’s performance, code compliance, durability, and functionality, while respecting and preserving the historic significance and integrity of the Saarinen design.


SGH developed a structural and building enclosure rehabilitation design for the curtain wall to improve life safety, durability, and energy efficiency, while being true to the original design. We designed replacement curtain wall framing members to support heavier glass lites while maintaining the original profiles and without compromising sight lines. We achieved this by supporting the new curtain wall and heavier glass directly on the building foundation and reducing gravity loads on the existing interior structural steel framing, so it only needed to support wind loads. Our rehabilitation plan also included retaining and restoring the original interior steel members originally supporting the curtain wall framing, replacing curtain wall glazing with heat-strengthened laminated glass with a low-emissivity coating to improve safety and thermal performance, and repairing the curved concrete edge beams of the thin shell concrete roof.


SGH also consulted on roofing and waterproofing repairs for the auditorium. We designed plaza waterproofing repairs to protect below-grade spaces, and collaborated with the contractor to develop repairs for the curved copper roofing, perimeter gutters, and flat-seam copper at the peak of the roof.

Project Contact(s)