The Class of 1959 Chapel

The Class of 1959 Chapel is a non-denominational chapel located on the campus of Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was designed by Moshe Safdie in 1992, as part of a master plan to complement the existing 1927 campus architecture by McKim, Mead and White that would allow for Business School expansion along the Charles River. It was funded by a gift from alumni from the class of 1959. It was engineered by Weidlinger Associates and built by Richard White Sons, Inc. for a cost of approximately 2.5 million dollars.


The chapel consists of a twenty-seven foot high concrete cylinder surfaced with a layer of patinaed bronze. On one side of the cylinder is a pyramidal glass greenhouse that houses a below-ground koi pond decorated with live green plants, a small waterfall, and concrete blocks that serve as stepping stones.

Outside the chapel is a rectangular marble tower containing a two-story steel pole and a large bronze ball. The tower is a functioning clock; as the ball moves up and down the pole, lines on the tower indicate the time of day.


The chapel itself occupies nearly all of the ground floor of the building and is accessed through a tall metal door from the greenhouse. The interior is a two-story stone cylinder with several semi-circular concrete constructions scalloping the walls. At the top of the cylinder are thin windows with several long prisms that spray light and occasionally rainbows across the austere concrete interior.


The furnishings are simple and consist primarily of rows of wooden chairs, a spare concrete altar, a piano and a harpsichord. The acoustics of the chapel are very crisp for a room made almost entirely of concrete. The chapel is used by the Harvard Business School community for non-denominational services, private celebrations and regular concerts.


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