Campus Projects: The New, the Improved, and the Big Reveals to Come

Tufts takes no summer vacation, as seen in work that expands on-campus housing, launches a new era for tennis, and updates older academic buildings 

Improvements to the Medford/Somerville campus this summer ranged from new housing and enhanced café experiences to game-changing investments in athletics and energy-conscious renovations to academic buildings.

While varied in scope, the projects (also featured on the Capital Projects website), carry forward key university priorities: innovation and collaboration; community; accessibility; and sustainability. Here’s a closer look.

Expanded On-Campus Housing

This summer, CoHo options expanded with the construction of two new houses in the neighborhood known as Medford Hillside.

CoHo, short for Community Housing, is an on-campus alternative to off-campus rentals for juniors and seniors. The concept began in 2018 with the renovation of 12 small wood-framed houses and the construction of one new house, providing apartment-style accommodations for 139 students. The two new houses are close to the original CoHo residences and within easy walking distance of the Academic Quad.

50 Winthrop Street CoHo House 2023

Summer construction projects at Tufts included expanding CoHo (Community Housing) choices for undergraduates. Above: 50 Winthrop Street is one of two new on-campus residences that offer apartment-style living for juniors and seniors. Photo: Alonso Nichols

The first house to be completed, 50 Winthrop Street, Medford, welcomed its first residents this month; additional new housing at 2-4 Capen Street will be ready for students to move in next spring. Together the two houses will accommodate 50 students.  

Project manager Christopher Hogan said the new prefabricated houses, which replace existing buildings, are designed to fit into the aesthetic of the neighborhood and meet “passive house” standards, which greatly reduce energy consumption and shrink the buildings’ carbon footprints.

“They will be incredibly efficient,” he said. “Insulation is very tight, and heating and cooling will be provided by heat pumps. The houses are not outfitted with solar but have been designed with an eye towards a future fit out.” 

In addition, Tufts has expanded 29 Sawyer Avenue, Somerville, formerly a residence for eight graduate students, so it can accommodate 26 juniors and seniors.  

A major addition to the building more than doubled its size. With substantial insulation and window upgrades, the residence, heated and cooled by heat pumps, will be as energy efficient as the new buildings at Winthrop and Capen, said Hogan. 

These projects allow the university to meet commitments to provide more on-campus housing and also “set a new benchmark for what is possible with buildings of this type,” Hogan said. “Never before have we built dorms that are so energy efficient, and we are utilizing more effective design and construction techniques to lower costs and reduced construction duration.”

Athletics: All Together Now

Tufts has moved and enhanced the Voute Tennis Courts, previously on Packard Avenue, integrating them into the new Tufts Tennis Center in the centralized “athletic district” just across College Avenue from the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center and Cousens Gym. (See rendering.)

This new location has Jumbo advantages, said project manager Jennifer Whitney. “Potentially, on a spring weekend, you could have softball, lacrosse, tennis, and baseball all competing here at the same time,” she said. “Spectators now have the convenience of seeing them in one central place, and that will expand the overall experience of enjoying our Jumbo teams.”

The tennis change of address came about after Professors Row Avenue courts gave way to emergency modular housing constructed to meet safety protocols during the pandemic. Varsity tennis players temporarily played on South Courts, adjacent to Ellis Oval, which is typically popular for recreational tennis. Tufts tennis teams expected to return to Professors Row, the courts were damaged by the modular housing, leading to the rebuild near the rest of the fields and the athletic buildings.

Admittedly, “there’s some nostalgia” among alumni for the Professors Row location, given its deep history with tennis, said Karl Gregor, coach of the men’s tennis team. “But the more they learned about all that we’re gaining, it became evident that this new home was going to be so much better.”

Indeed, the eight new tennis courts will incorporate superior materials and steel in their foundations, which helps prevent concrete contraction and cracking, said Whitney.

The project encompasses a new pathway from Cousens parking lot to allow direct access to the courts and spectator seating for close to 200 fans. LED lighting replaces the original metal halide lighting and reduces lighting spillover into neighboring residences. A new scoreboard and digital infrastructure that will allow live streaming are additional new amenities.

“This is going to be a huge improvement on the student athlete experience, including a benefit to the community,” said Gregor. “We now have 14 courts on campus, and we can free up the South Courts for people who just want to get out there and play. There is just a lot more tennis playing opportunity for the whole Tufts community.”

Gregor noted that the new facilities now match the tennis teams’ national reputations. Men’s tennis finished 2023 ranked number two in the country and both the men's and women's teams consistently rank in the top 10. “Now, our players can really showcase their talent,” he said.

Sol Gittleman ballpark aerial summer 2023

Aerial view of Sol Gittleman Ballpark, where summer construction continued. Photo: Boston Aerial for Tufts University

Adjacent to the courts, construction continues on the final phase of Sol Gittleman Park. The ballpark opened this spring as the new home of the seven-time NESCAC champion Tufts baseball team; this summer, work focused on the grandstands, which will include an elevator lift and a press box, expected to be completed this October.

Lacrosse and soccer also benefit from a summer project that resurfaced Bello Field. The new synthetic features the Jumbo mascot stitched into the fabric of the field.

New Life for Older Academic Buildings

Tufts is also transforming the home of the departments of religion, sociology, anthropology, and classical studies. For the duration of the project, the departments usually housed in Eaton are located in Braker Hall.

Rendering of Eaton Hall after completed renovations

Eaton Hall will be transformed by renovations now underway on the Academic Quad. Image: Finegold Alexander Architects and Payette

Eaton Hall opened in 1908 as Tufts College’s first library building. With the opening of Wessell Library (now Tisch Library) in 1964, it was converted into a classroom building.

Its current renovation represents the most ambitious renovation on the Academic Quad since the 2019 transformation of Barnum/Dana, said Ruth Bennett, senior director of capital programs.

The most prominent improvement will be the addition of a “welcoming, and a very distinct entrance,” said Jennifer Whitney, project manager. The building will also be reconfigured to allow natural light to brighten the overall experience of the space, she said.

At the School of Engineering, Halligan Hall is the focus of a comprehensive renovation. Halligan has roots in the 1920s, when it was a manufacturing plant to support Tufts pioneering broadcast radio ventures; Tufts eventually took over the property to house the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department.

The renovation is creating additional teaching and research labs and more faculty office space and ensuring room for future growth.

The work, on track to be completed next spring, also encompasses new insulated double pane windows and a new mechanical system that reduces reliance on fossil fuels. When complete, the project will enable the ECE department, currently spread across three campus locations, to reconvene under a single roof, increasing opportunities for faculty, students, and staff to collaborate.

Exterior of renovated Bacon Hall

Ongoing renovations to Bacon Hall include adding a new Boston Avenue entrance and plaza. Image: CannonDesign

Tufts also began prepping Bacon Hall, at 530 Boston Avenue, for extensive renovation. By spring 2025, Bacon will be the new home of the Earth and Climate Sciences Department, as well as some biology offices.

A comprehensive makeover will include a new entrance as part of a new addition and entry plaza, said project manager Anthony Petrocchi. Inside, “spaces will be designed for flexibility, comfort, and efficiency,” he said.  The building, last renovated in the mid-1990s, will also receive new, energy efficient mechanical and electrical systems.

Getting Better at “Grab-and-Go”

Dining Services this summer ramped up convenience for students with improvements to two popular dining options: Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run and Kindlevan Café.

“Our goal is always to enhance the overall student experience,” said Patti Klos, director of dining and business services at Tufts. “We are looking forward to seeing these two popular destinations bustling again with activity.

Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run, at Hodgdon Hall, 103 Talbot Ave. (better known as “Hodge”), has reopened after being closed in March for renovation. Improvements include a dedicated mobile order pickup space, an open floor plan for better queuing, a micromarket with hot and cold food and beverages, and better workspaces for staff that are immediately adjacent to serving areas.

“We think students will find it’s now easier and faster to grab-and-go, which has always made Hodge indispensable,” said Amy Hamilton, manager of strategic communication and marketing.

The location will continue to serve student favorites such as burritos, HodgPodge Greens & Grain Bowls, chicken wings, a bagel bar, and General Gai chicken (or tofu).

Across campus, a dining services project in the Science and Engineering Complex has similar goals. Kindlevan Café was renovated to provide faster, more efficient service in response to high demand—sometimes as many as 1,500 people a day, said Klos.

“We’ve extended the serving counter and flipped the queing, added a dedicated mobile pick-up area, and enlarged the support area for the staff,” she said. Kindlevan Café is expected to open around the middle of September.

Visitors to the café may order smoothies, fair trade coffees, ready-to-go sandwiches and salads, and hot panini, among top favorites, through the Tufts Dining app.

Klos added that later this fall, Dining Services will reopen Tower Café in Tisch Library. “It’s been a busy year for us as we strive to keep pace with the evolving needs of the university,” she said. “We’re making sure the Tufts dining experience is the best it can be.”

Back to Top