Summer Construction News

Large and small projects are under way on all three of Tufts’ campuses

the Tufts Science and Engineering Complex under construction

Tufts is growing, and there’s no time like summer to see that progress in action. Construction projects are pushing forward with new buildings, like the Science and Engineering Complex, while at the same time the university is investing in infrastructure with a new central energy plant. 

In Grafton, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is wrapping up a major renovation to the Foster Hospital for Small Animals, while in Boston new lab space emerges at the Tufts Institute for Innovation.

Classrooms on the Medford/Somerville campus are being modernized into new, flexible spaces, and a popular computer lab in Eaton Hall is being refreshed. To get a status update on these and other projects, Tufts Now spoke with Barb Stein, director of capital programs, and Lois Stanley, director of campus planning. Construction updates are also posted to the Tufts construction website. 

Construction Projects

Science and Engineering Complex: With its reflective glass exterior, this five-story, 80,000-square-foot teaching and research facility at the intersection of Boston and College avenues will be integrated with Anderson and Robinson halls. Construction began last year, and this summer, progress continues on the exterior, as crews open up connections to Anderson and Robinson, where upgrades and renovations are now in full swing. The $110 million project is on track to be completed in August 2017.

Construction is continuing on a new energy plant next to Dowling Hall. Photo: Alonso NicholsConstruction is continuing on a new energy plant next to Dowling Hall. Photo: Alonso Nichols
Central Energy Plant: Also on the Medford/Somerville campus, construction is continuing on a new energy plant next to Dowling Hall. The central energy plant will provide electricity, steam and hot water for heating and chilled water for cooling to the upper campus. It is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent. The plant will take advantage of the latest high-efficiency cogeneration technologies, which use a single fuel source to simultaneously generate heat and electricity on site, including thermal heat recapture. This summer, underground utility connections on the academic quad continue, but most work is focused on the main building. The construction is on pace to be completed this fall and the plant is expected to be up and running early next year, after underground utility connections are complete. This summer piping, ductwork and conduit installation will continue, boilers will be rigged into the building, and exterior brick work and roof installation will begin.

Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals: In Grafton, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is wrapping up renovations to the Foster Hospital for Small Animals. The project has added 4,552 square feet of space to accommodate growing demand for services, while also upgrading teaching and learning facilities.

Equine Sports Medicine Complex: Also in Grafton, Cummings School is starting construction on an equine sports medicine complex, whose centerpiece is a 96,000 square-foot indoor arena in which to observe and evaluate patients under saddle and over fences. The complex will support the  Equine Sports Medicine and Surgical Service at the Hospital for Large Animals, whose caseload includes hunters/ jumpers, dressage and three-day-event horses.

Learning Spaces Re-imagined

This summer Tufts begins work on a five-year plan to upgrade classrooms. Work varies by classroom, but typically finishes like paint, window treatments, lighting and carpet are updated, room controls for audiovisual and lighting are co-located, upgraded teaching technology including additional writing surfaces are installed, and new furnishings better suited to group learning and breakout sessions, such as chairs with casters and stackable tables, are brought in. 

The project starts this summer in 19 classrooms in Arts, Sciences and Engineering and four at the Fletcher School. First up are Braker Hall (economics), Miner Hall (philosophy) and six rooms in Aidekman basement used by multiple departments, including art history and drama and dance.

Stanley says the project’s scope builds on findings of a learning spaces planning study completed in 2015, which evaluated 250 learning spaces on the Medford/Somerville campus. Classrooms, teaching labs and computer labs are often out of sync with new teaching practices, which are shifting from presentation formats such as lectures to more discussion-based participation. Work this summer will vary, she says, because “this is not a one-size-fits-all project.”

A new vision for the student experience is also unfolding as Tufts Technology Services begins to transform the Eaton computer lab into a “delightful and engaging environment for students and faculty,” says Stanley. The work represents a top-to-bottom makeover that encompasses new carpeting and paint and rearranges the space to add areas for laptop use and areas for collaboration, which will include large monitors, whiteboards and mobile furniture. A “genius bar” for tech support will also be introduced.

Building Renovations and Upgrades

Metcalf Hall on Professors Row, constructed in 1893, is getting a facelift. Photo: Alonso NicholsMetcalf Hall on Professors Row, constructed in 1893, is getting a facelift. Photo: Alonso Nichols
Two residence halls in Medford/Somerville — Lewis and Hillside/Hallowell — are undergoing roof repairs, while Metcalf Hall on Professors Row, constructed in 1893, is having its distinctive yellow brick cleaned and repointed; new windows will be installed and trimmed in their original yellow color. Tufts is upgrading Latin Way residence hall floors, bedrooms, hallways and kitchens. The second phase of maintenance for Stratton Hall continues with renovations to the first floor, and improvements to the foundation.

Slate roof repairs are on tap for the buildings that circle the academic quad: Olin Center, Ballou Hall, West Hall and Goddard Chapel. 


A new synthetic-turf field will be ready for field hockey this fall after Tufts completes the first phase of its storm water improvement project on the Medford/Somerville campus. The field was dug up in order to bury a network of massive 42-inch pipes that will act as a holding tank for as much as 900,000 gallons of water. The pipes will control surges in water due to heavy rain and prevent destructive runoff into residential neighborhoods and Two Penny Brook. (To complete the project, in the next phase Tufts will tunnel under College Avenue to collect and divert runoff from the neighborhood behind the Cousens Gym area.) The new playing field, approximately 210 by 315 feet, will also stand up to inclement weather by being constructed out of AstroTurf. In other athletics-related work, the running track at the Gantcher Center is being resurfaced.


Tufts is installing a new lab at 200 Boston Ave. that will help in the study of advanced semiconductors and the interaction of light and matter. Thomas Vandervelde, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will use the multi-chamber molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) system for his research. MBE is widely used in the manufacture of semiconductor devices, including transistors for cellular phones and Wi-Fi  components. The new facility, made possible with funding from Tufts School of Engineering, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation, will also bring together Vandervelde’s current labs at 200 Boston Ave. and the Science and Technology Center at 4 Colby St. 

Laura Ferguson can be reached at

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