By Michaela Loughran
Tufts has announced a plan to begin construction on a new residence hall on Boston Avenue next year, with hopes of completing it by fall 2025. The new seven story building will be open to juniors and seniors only and will house 398 Tufts students in apartment-style units.
In a first for Tufts residences, the dorm’s first floor will be home to some sort of retail space, such as a restaurant or cafe, and an outdoor plaza, that will be accessible to the public.
“We do not expect the retail location in the proposed new residence hall to be a significant generator of revenue,” Barbara Stein, the vice president for operations, wrote in an email to the Daily. “We envision the proposed retail location more as an amenity that will benefit students, faculty, staff and our neighbors in the area.”
The building will be across the street from the new Medford/Tufts Green Line stop, which opens today. This will afford residents convenient access to other important locations on campus, such as the Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, the Joyce Cummings Center and Kindlevan Café in the Science and Engineering Complex. Tufts also plans to work with BlueBikes, a Boston area bike share program, to construct two new stations a walkable distance from the new residence hall.
Proximity to public transportation, however, isn’t the only sustainable aspect of this new construction project. If all goes as planned, the building will help Tufts meet its goal of becoming a carbon neutral institution by 2050. It will be constructed to meet a low energy target and be connected to Tufts’ main energy plant for utilities, which is already energy efficient. Additionally, the building will be solar ready and outfitted with solar panels.
In addition to sustainability benefits, Christina Alch, the director of residential life and learning, believes that increasing the number of juniors and seniors living on campus has significant benefits for the greater Tufts residential community.
“Living in our residential community is such a special opportunity because you form relationships with other people, receive support from university resources, and learn and develop life skills more naturally than you might living off-campus,” Alch wrote in an email to the Daily.
Recent demand for the construction of more on-campus housing options has been high from both students and members of the Medford/Somerville community. For students, on-campus living offers closer proximity to classes, and local community members are hoping that it will open up more off-campus housing options for local families. Rocco DiRico, the executive director of government and community relations, cited the need for greater housing capacity as the factor that had the most weight in the decision to build the new residence hall.
“We have heard from our students and neighbors, both groups want us to add more on-campus housing options,” DiRico wrote in an email to the Daily.
At a recent community meeting with over 50 attendees from the Medford/Somerville community, residents got a chance to voice their thoughts on the new construction project. DiRico noted that community response was largely positive.
“Many neighbors appreciated our transit oriented, mixed-use design,” DiRico wrote. “Other folks were glad to see that we were adding more on-campus housing and thought the location was a good choice.”
He mentioned that the response wasn’t all positive, with some neighbors expressing concern about construction and traffic impacts, but said that these issues would hopefully be addressed prior to construction.
DiRico is confident that once completed, this building may become an important spot on some prospective students’ campus tours.
“In the future, many prospective students will arrive on campus via the Medford/Tufts Green Line Station,” he wrote. “This transit-oriented development will be the first thing they see as they step onto campus.”
He believes that it will provide a strong demonstration of Tufts’ commitment to “on-campus housing, sustainability, and forward-looking architecture.”
DiRico also noted that though this will be the first residence hall construction project since Sophia Gordon Hall was finished 2006, Tufts has made housing a top priority in recent years.
“Tufts has added more than 485 on campus beds over the last five years,” he wrote. “In addition to those 485 beds, Tufts also added The Court at [Professors] Row which houses 150 first year students. … We’re also constructing two new CoHo houses and expanding 29 Sawyer Avenue in Somerville.”
Tufts plans to begin construction on the new residence hall in 2023 and hopes to finish construction by the fall of 2025.
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