Summer Construction Update

Many large and small projects are under way across Tufts’ three campuses

photo of 574 Boston Ave under construction

Though they may be hot and hazy, these days are far from lazy for those restoring the buildings and facilities across all three Tufts campuses, where more than 100 large and small projects are under way this summer.

Among them is a complete restoration of the exterior of Cousens Gymnasium on the Medford/Somerville campus. “It was in pretty tough shape, and we just didn’t feel we could defer the repairs any longer,” says Rudi Pizzi, the university’s director of project administration.

Constructed in 1931, the building was named for then Tufts President John Albert Cousens. At the time it was the most expensive facility on campus, costing more than $500,000.

The custom brick and cast-stone architectural elements will be repaired or replaced, the main entry stairs will be repaired and waterproofed, and all copper downspouts will be replaced. Five flat roofs will also be replaced, and windows will be refurbished or replaced. The entire façade and exposed foundation will also be waterproofed.

“This will really bring this building back to how it needs to be,” says Pizzi. The project also includes some interior work. The gym has never been properly ventilated, which has resulted in some moisture problems. Large energy-recovery ventilators will be installed in the Carzo Cage area and ducted through to the varsity basketball arena.

Carmichael, 574 Boston Ave. and SciTech

Those who work on or visit the Medford/Somerville campus might also wonder what is happening behind the green curtain enshrouding 60-year-old Carmichael Hall at the end of the academic quad.

“That is a massive building, and this is our first opportunity in the last 10 years to address the exterior, due to costs involved and availability. For two summers this residence hall has been occupied by the Conference Bureau,” Pizzi says. “This summer, we are restoring the entire original façade.”

Windows are being replaced in the rear and on the Chase Center side, all the brick is being repointed, and new steel lintels are being installed over some windows. Similar work is being done to the exterior of the adjoining Chase Center function facility, and caulking and sealant are being applied to the frame of the greenhouse at the rear of Carmichael.

Construction on Carmichael Hall began in 1952, on the site of the former Mystic Reservoir, and was completed in 1954. It is named for Tufts President Leonard Carmichael. It was originally built to house students in Tufts’ Navy and Air Force ROTC programs, and continues to house undergraduate students today. It also contains one of Tufts’ main dining halls.

Exterior work at 574 Boston Ave., a former factory building that will be used for teaching and research beginning in May 2015, is nearly completed. “The façade has been repaired and has a completely new look, with metal louvers and all new energy-efficient windows,” Pizzi says. “In addition, we are installing a new roof.”

The building’s historical look has been preserved using restored architectural elements, including the large square columns that stand along the front of the building. Work on interior faculty offices, labs and classrooms is ongoing and will continue through the 2014–15 academic year, he says. The building is being designed with the goal of attaining LEED Gold (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Around the corner, phase two of the restoration of 4 Colby St., which houses the Tufts Science and Technology Center, will include repairs to the loading dock and Colby Street sides of the building. The work includes reconstruction of masonry and the repair or replacement of lintels and all windows. After a study of the building’s potential future uses and university facility requirements is completed next year, the mechanical systems and roof will be assessed for replacement in the coming years.

Health Sciences Improvements

On the health sciences campus in downtown Boston, work continues on the Biomedical Research and Public Health Building, a large U-shaped structure on Harrison Avenue that encompasses the old M&V, Stearns, Arnold and South Cove wings. Extensive remodeling of labs and offices has been completed in the South Cove and Arnold wings over the past couple of years.

This year, a wet and a dry lab have just been renovated on the fourth floor of the M&V wing to house the new Tufts Institute for Innovation, says Pizzi, and work on the rear façade of the Stearns wing is now done, completing restoration of the complex’s exterior façade.

The work is part of a master plan that will inform the development of new labs and other facilities in the complex, as well as the replacement over time of all mechanical and electrical equipment. “This project will pretty much dwarf any existing building project planned on any of our three campuses—the complex is more than 300,000 square feet,” says Pizzi.

At the School of Dental Medicine, new student work stations are being added to the pre-clinic on the eighth floor, and patient chairs in the clinics on the third and fourth floors are being upgraded.

A new classroom is being constructed on the sixth floor of the Sackler Center, and numerous labs are being relocated, built or retrofitted at the School of Medicine.

At Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, a new generator serving the entire Grafton campus has been installed to power the Foster Hospital for Small Animals and the Hospital for Large Animals in an emergency. A new modular chiller, which will produce energy savings, replaces a 30-year-old one for cooling the Hospital for Large Animals.

Keeping Tufts’ buildings and equipment in shape is a never-ending task, Pizzi says. “If we want to keep them from falling into further disrepair, we need to give them our attention.”

Gail Bambrick can be reached at

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