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.