Great Dome to get skylight by next January
If all goes well, students studying in the Barker Reading Room will be able to see the light of day through an amethyst-colored skylight on the Great Dome by next January.
The new skylight will completely replace the old one, which has been covered since the Institute capped it during World War II for fear of attracting bombers. This is not the first time there has been talk of renovations to the dome. Tight budgets killed 1998 plans for reviving the skylight, and the past decade saw a series of efforts to repair cracks through which rainwater leaked into Barker. The current work on the dome began in June.
“The dome is such an important icon of MIT,” said Richard Amster, director of campus planning, engineering, and construction at the Department of Facilities. “We’re very happy to be able to restore the oculus.”
The main construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, according to Amster. A clear protective covering will be installed in the months following, but the Reading Room is expected to be open for IAP.
The skylight will be 32 feet in diameter — taking up a good portion of the ceiling of the dome, which is 100 feet across. It will be made up of several hundred amethyst-colored glass blocks set in a stainless steel frame.