Tufts Plans New Residence Hall on Boston Avenue

Tufts has begun planning for construction on an undergraduate residence hall for juniors and seniors on the Medford/Somerville campus next year. The building on Boston Avenue, expected to open in Fall 2025, would feature apartment-style units and will welcome the public to its ground-floor retail space.

The hall will offer easy access to key undergraduate destinations, including Tisch Sports and Fitness Center and Joyce Cummings Center, as well as central points on the Academic Quad and public transportation.

To be located across the street from the new Medford/Tufts MBTA station—part of the Green Line Extension project now nearing completion—the building will include an outdoor plaza and space for a first-floor retail operation, such as a café or restaurant, that will be open to the public.

“In addition to building a beautiful, efficient new residence hall, we are taking this opportunity to energize the Boston Avenue streetscape,” said Rocco DiRico, executive director of government and community relations at Tufts. “Our objective is to create an inviting place on campus, not just for our students, but also for our neighbors who may be catching a train into Boston and for our visitors who may be seeing Tufts for the first time.”  

DiRico said the building accomplishes multiple, shared goals.

“For years, Medford and Somerville have asked us to create more high-density on-campus housing to open up off-campus housing for local families,” he said. “We are doing that here by planning a residence hall for juniors and seniors who would otherwise have to rent apartments off campus.” Currently Tufts guarantees campus housing for first-year students and sophomores.

The project is not expected to increase the number of student-owned cars on campus, DiRico said. “The majority of our on-campus students don’t bring cars anyway, and with the arrival of the T, we expect that the students in this new hall will love the convenience of the Green Line, located right across the street from where they live.”  

Tufts also is in discussion with the bike share system BlueBikes to sponsor two new stations within walking distance of the new residence hall, he said.  

The MBTA will be making sidewalk, crosswalk, and other pedestrian-related improvements once the Medford/Tufts station is complete, DiRico added. 

The project is aligned with the university’s commitment to decarbonize the campus and build energy-efficient buildings. This building will be designed and constructed to a low energy use intensity target and will connect to Tufts’ highly efficient central energy plant for utilities, said Ruth Bennett, senior director of capital programs.

The building will also be solar-ready, she said, which means all of the conduits and meters required for a solar array will be installed during construction. Tufts will continue its work with solar developers to install solar panels on the roofs of as many buildings as possible, including the new residence hall.

The residence hall is part of Tufts’ ongoing investment in new and improved infrastructure that advances the university’s sustainability goals, including reaching carbon neutrality on the Medford/Somerville campus by 2050, she said.

The architect is William Rawn Associates, whose projects include residence halls at Brown, Brandeis, and Duke and the Sophia Gordon Hall at Tufts, among others. The construction manager is DPR Construction.

The new residence hall grows out of a Tufts strategic plan to make significant capital improvements. In April 2021, the university completed a $250 million bond offering and earmarked a large portion of those monies for student housing.

The last time Tufts built a new on-campus residence hall was in 2006. The opening of Sophia Gordon Hall (15 Talbot Avenue) made available 124 beds for juniors and seniors. (Additional apartment-style housing also is available in the Latin Way and Hillsides dormitories, as well as in special-interest housing and rooms in the other dormitories on-campus.)

Over the past five years, the university has made significant progress toward expanded on-campus housing, adding a total of 485 beds for undergraduates, said DiRico. 

Juniors and seniors, preferring apartment-style units, have found an appealing option for on-campus housing in a recent initiative known as CoHo (a name selected by students, which is short for Community Housing). For that project, Tufts renovated 13 wood-frame houses, and built one new fully electric, highly sustainable home, to create housing for 139 students. Tufts also plans to renovate two more houses, 50 Winthrop and 2-4 Capen Street, which will expand CoHo capacity by fall 2023.

Tufts also is renovating 29 Sawyer Avenue in Somerville, which currently houses four students. When renovation and expansion are complete, the new residence hall will house 26 juniors and seniors.

“Being able to have more juniors and seniors living on campus creates a more robust residential community,” said Camille Lizarríbar, dean of Student Affairs. “It increases opportunities for students at different stages of their Tufts experience to learn from and engage with each other, to forge close friendships, and to share memories that last a lifetime.” 

Summer construction this past year also created housing for 150 first-year students in the area known as the Court at Professors Row. This fall 24 students also moved into a new housing option, the renovated 114 Professors Row, a former fraternity house.

The university hopes to begin construction on the new residence hall in 2023 with completed by Fall 2025.

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