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Tufts University

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Powder House Blvd., Winthrop St., Boston and College aves., Medford and Somerville.
  • Ballou Hall (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

The Tufts University campus features work by a variety of Boston-area architects from the mid-nineteenth century to the present in a classic New England hilltop setting. On land astride Walnut Hill donated by local magnate Charles Tufts, Gridley J. F. Bryant designed the first building, Ballou Hall (1852–1855, 1 The Green), a monumental brick pile trimmed in brownstone. As the college grew, new buildings were added along the hilltop green and down its slopes. The finest of these are modest red brick gems—Packard Hall (1855–1857, possibly by Bryant, 4 The Green); George A. Clough's Curtis Hall (1893–1895, 474 Boston Avenue) and Goddard Hall (1883, 160 Packard Avenue); and, possibly by J. Phillip Rinn, Bromfield-Pearson Hall (1893–1894, 503 Boston Avenue) and Robinson Hall (1899–1900, 212 College Avenue). These are all stolid buildings with taut glowing surfaces, strong round arches, and sheltering hipped roofs. Next came a red brick Georgian Revival mode, continued for half a century, mainly by campus architects Andrew, Jones, Biscoe and Whitmore (e.g., Blakeley Hall, 1925–1926, 1 Winthrop Street, and Cousens Gymnasium, 1930–1932, 161 College Avenue) and Tufts alumnus Arland A. Dirlam (e.g., Carmichael Hall, 1952–1953, 200 Packard Avenue, and Cohen Arts Center, 1954–1955, 15 South Campus Road). Modernism arrived at Tufts in the 1960s, also in a red brick guise. A dozen buildings by Perry, Shaw, Hepburn and Dean persuasively articulate the structure of brick piers (e.g., Lincoln Filene Center, 1961–1963, 10 Upper Campus Road) and brick's rich surface qualities (e.g., Wren Hall, 1964–1965, 11 Winthrop Street). Hugh Stubbins designed a brick-clad megastructure, Lewis Hall (1969–1970, 75 Packard Avenue). Postmodernism, too, features the campus's dominant palette: the villagelike Latin Way (1979–1981, 40A–F South Campus Road) and Hillside (1980–1981, 10–80 North Hill Road) dormitories by Goody Clancy; a pair of bulky hilltop academic buildings by Architectural Resources Cambridge (Cabot Intercultural Center, 1978–1981, 170 Packard Avenue, and Olin Center, 1989–1990, 180 Packard Avenue); and the subtle, hill-hugging Granoff Hillel Center (1992–1993, Babcock Design Group with Bruner/Cott, 220 Packard Avenue).

Other materials strike a note of variety. George Loring designed a pair of luminous yellow brick boxes with elegant classical detailing (Miner and Paige halls, 1891–1892, 12–14 Upper Campus Road). J. Phillip Rinn used random-laid Somerville blue slate for the Lombard Romanesque Goddard Chapel (1881–1883, 3 The Green) and Barnum Hall (1882–1884, 163 Packard Avenue), named for trustee and benefactor P. T. Barnum. Gray concrete and limestone set off The Architects Collaborative's Michael Chemical Laboratory (1964–1965, 62 Talbot Avenue) and Wessell (now Tisch) Library (1962–1965, Campbell, Aldrich and Nulty; 1994–1996, Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott, 35 Professors Row). Clad in orange and brown brick, the Mayer Campus Center (1982–1985, Jung/Brannen, 44 Professors Row) features asymmetrically arranged pavilions in a Wrightian hillside manner.

A relatively poor school for most of its history, regionally oriented until the 1950s and without cultural pretensions, Tufts enjoyed an architectural patronage both local and unassuming. The best individual buildings are the quiet red brick structures of the 1890s and the 1960s. The hilltop site provides the spatial drama, best exploited by the Olmsted firm's Memorial Steps (1929) above College Avenue.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


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Keith N. Morgan, "Tufts University", [Medford, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 405-406.

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