Tufts Kicks Off Summer Construction

Work begins on simulation clinics for medical and veterinary students, and continues on a new academic center slated to open in 2022
A new Tufts University building, still under construction, overlooks an intersection with other parts of campus visible around it. Joyce Cummings Center, a new academic hub on the Medford-Somerville campus, is slated to open in early 2022.
Joyce Cummings Center, a new academic hub on the Medford-Somerville campus, is slated to open in early 2022. Photo: Alonso Nichols
June 17, 2021

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As pandemic restrictions lift, Tufts is resuming work on campus improvements this summer, while staying on track to open a multidisciplinary center in January.

A solar carport, new artificial turf in Ellis Oval, and an expanded clinical skills and simulation center at the School of Medicine are among the projects being initiated this summer. At the same time, construction continues on Joyce Cummings Center, a prominent academic hub on the Medford-Somerville campus slated to open in early 2022.

Summer 2021 will be more intensive than last year, when COVID-19 brought capital improvements to a near-standstill that continued into spring 2021. As a result, “we didn’t have the lead time we normally have, to ramp up for summer,” said Gretchen Von Grossmann, director of capital programs. “But we’re glad to be able to get back to work and we’re already gearing up for a full-fledged summer next year, when we can tackle new projects plus most of those we had to put on hold.”

“Opening Joyce Cummings Center unlocks the potential of historic buildings on the Academic Quad, like Eaton,” she said. “We want to take this time to study how they can be modernized.”

Here’s a look at summer projects moving forward. 

Joyce Cummings Center

With the university’s focus on creating collaborative opportunities and opening up new spaces for growing departments and programs, Tufts in 2019 started construction on Joyce Cummings Center on College Avenue on the Medford-Somerville campus. Construction is on track to be completed by September, with the building ready for occupancy in January 2022, said Ruth Bennett, director of strategic capital programs.

The six-story building, transforming an under-used corner of the campus, is made possible by trustee emeritus Bill Cummings, A58, H06, J97P, M97P, and his wife, Joyce, H17, J97P, M97P, through their Cummings Foundation.

The center will house a mix of academic areas: the university-wide Data Intensive Studies Center; the departments of economics, mathematics, and computer science; the School of Engineering’s Gordon Institute (including the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center); the Center for Applied Brain and Cognitive Studies; and The Fletcher School’s executive education program and Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP).

Reinforcing the university’s commitment to sustainability practices that put it on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050, construction and design will include efficient heating, cooling, lighting, and high performance insulation. The center is expected to achieve an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) target of 50,000 BTU per square foot, an aggressive target which will substantially reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption at the center, Bennett said.

The building is also envisioned as a new gateway to Tufts. Just next door, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority is making strides toward a new transit station. The Green Line Extension, expected to open in December, will link the university’s Boston campuses (encompassing the health sciences and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts), with the Medford-Somerville campus and its School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and The Fletcher School. The MBTA project extends the Green Line from Lechmere to a new terminus to be named the “Medford/Tufts” station.

To learn more, take a virtual tour of the building under construction.

School of Medicine and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Two other projects bring much anticipated improvements to the education of future doctors and veterinarians.

At the School of Medicine, Tufts will relocate the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center from 35 Kneeland Street to the 2nd floor of the M&V wing of the Boston Research and Public Health complex, a move that brings it adjacent to the Michael Jaharis Jr., M87P, H15, Anatomy Laboratory and teaching center, which opened in 2017.  Upgrades to the simulation center will include 16 simulated exam rooms and four surgical spaces, plus debrief, preparation, and classroom space, offices, storage, and a lounge.  

The project also includes full renovation of the 5th floor as office space and a renewal of restrooms on each floor of the M&V wing. A schematic can be seen here.

To support the School of Medicine’s new physical therapy program, a teaching space will be created on the Medford-Somerville campus. The interior work at 200 Boston Avenue will reconfigure space currently leased for the Center for Applied Brain and Cognitive Sciences, which will be moving into Joyce Cummings Center.

On the Grafton campus at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts will build a multi-purpose teaching and simulation lab on the lower level of the Large Animal Hospital this summer. By fall, students will have the opportunity to practice clinical skills on simulators, as well as train on ultrasound equipment.

Also under way is renovation of a chemical compounding room for oncology at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals.

Medford-Somerville Campus
Summer projects across the Medford-Somerville campus will bolster teaching, research, and athletics. They include:

A solar carport. Charging stations will serve up to six electric vehicles in the Cohen Parking Lot on Lower Campus Road.

Athletics. Tufts will convert the football field from grass to synthetic turf.

Renovation of event space: The Coolidge Room in Ballou Hall (built in 1854), long stamped by tradition, history, and formal decor, is undergoing a top-to-bottom refresh to give it a more contemporary and welcoming aesthetic, Von Grossmann said. The facelift will introduce a new paint scheme, carpeting, window treatments, lighting, furniture, and A/V systems. The work follows a decision by the university’s Public Art workstream, one of five groups charged with reckoning with structural racism throughout the university, to remove the room’s 11 portraits of Tufts presidents and evaluate how the room can instead include exhibition space for underrepresented communities.

Teaching and Research: For the School of Arts and Sciences, Tufts will wrap up extensive upgrades to Michael Laboratory, at 62 Talbot Avenue. Enhancements to Michael encompass HVAC systems, a new roof and windows, and exterior façade repairs. At the School of Engineering, Tufts will build a lab at the Science and Technology Center, 4 Colby Street, for research led by Nate Eagan. Eagan, a visiting professor, will join Tufts as an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering this fall.

Undergraduate residences: The residential building at 114 Professors’ Row will be renovated for continued use as a student residence.

Laura Ferguson can be reached at laura.ferguson@tufts.edu.