MIT’s Great Dome restoration will add a skylight that was blacked out during WWII

October 10, 2012 |
Drew Ballensky

A restoration project on the Great Dome building at Massachusetts Institute Technology in Cambridge, MA will place a new skylight on the iconic dome and return the facility to its original look. The skylight had been covered to protect it during World War II. In 1942, as research was under­way to develop radar that would be used in the war, the university blacked out the ­oculus, or skylight, at the center of the dome to prevent it from being used as a beacon for enemy bombers.

Work is under way to remove the old oculus from the building to make way for a new one that will be supported by a stainless steel frame. The skylight will feature hundreds of two-inch thick, amethyst-­colored glass blocks. Student pranksters in past years have perched replica police cruisers and airplanes atop the Great Dome, and have even turned it into the R2D2 character from “Star Wars.” To ensure that no future high jinks damage the new skylight, impact-resistant material will be ­installed atop the dome.


Drew Ballensky | Reconstruction Blog

Drew Ballensky is general manager of Duro-Last Roofing, Inc.’s central U.S. facility in Iowa and company spokesman for Duro-Last’s cool roofing, sustainability and architectural education programs. He is past-president of the Chemical Fabrics and Film Association and chairman of CFFA’s Vinyl Roofing Division. Drew earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from the University of Northern Iowa and master’s degree in business administration from Florida State University.
Drew has over 29 years experience in business and industry in various engineering and managerial capacities. He has worked in the U.S. and Canadian operations for a major international manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings, was a financial analyst with a major athletic apparel manufacturer and was an owner of a general contracting company.

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