Tufts Adds 5 Stories to Downtown Building, Without Closing It

Tufts School of Dental Medicine image

A 10-story Tufts U. building from the 1970s was always intended to be taller, and now it is. (ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge photo)

Plenty of colleges make life hard for architects and contractors, asking that complex buildings be squeezed into unlikely sites, or constructed according to preposterous schedules, or both. But Tufts University deserves a special mention in the difficult-requests category: Not only did the university want a five-floor addition on top of its 10-story School of Dental Medicine building, in downtown Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood, but officials also wanted to keep the original building open for clinics and classes while the expansion was under way. For good measure, the university also wanted the addition to enliven the exterior of a poured-concrete 1970s structure that was looking a little drab.

The 95,000-square-foot expansion was possible, in part, because the original structure was designed to accommodate extra stories. The architects, from ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge, chose a glassy, contemporary design for the new floors, and then carried the new look down to the street by resheathing a corner of the original building and blending elements of the new design into the entrance.

The addition houses two floors of clinical space, a simulation laboratory, teaching space, a conference center, and administrative offices. Some functions are being moved up from lower floors of the building. Contractors for the 22-month project were Shawmut Design and Construction. The cost was $68-million, and the project is expected to earn LEED certification.

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