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The new Interfaith Center at Tufts University is a flexible facility that serves all types of campus community meeting space needs, but primarily those of diverse religious groups. The project, for which our firm provided pre-design through construction services, involved renovations to an existing wood frame building originally constructed in 1912 as a Knights of Columbus Hall. The University decided to pursue using the building to solve some of their needs for meeting and gathering spaces for up to 100 persons. Simultaneously, the pressure to find suitable locations for several diverse religious groups eventually triggered the decision on the part of the University to locate three offices for University Chaplains here, and to provide space for religious meetings and services.
Many of the religious groups had been using basements of small houses that surround the campus as gathering spaces. The administration’s vision was to create a facility that would provide a dedicated space for these groups, as well as for other non-religious campus groups in search of a meeting location. Two goals were key to the Client: One, that it be completed by September 1, 2007; and Two, that it be as cost-effective as possible. The University also wanted the facility to look like it was a part of its institution, yet be a good neighbor to the surrounding residences. The new Interfaith Center at Tufts University is a flexible facility that serves all types of campus community meeting space needs, but primarily those of diverse religious groups. The project, for which our firm provided pre-design through construction services, involved renovations to an existing wood frame building originally constructed in 1912 as a Knights of Columbus Hall.
The University decided to pursue using the building to solve some of their needs for meeting and gathering spaces for up to 100 persons. Simultaneously, the pressure to find suitable locations for several diverse religious groups eventually triggered the decision on the part of the University to locate three offices for University Chaplains here, and to provide space for religious meetings and services. The choice for exterior materials respects the original architecture of the structure and relate to its neighborhood context of shingled homes. Enlargement of the existing window openings in the old space was a key goal of the design. The enlarged windows enable natural sunlight to fill the room and create a warm, open environment for gatherings.

Architectural Design Heritage

The existing facility was built in 1912, and had various renovations over the years. Its corner location is nestled in a residential section of the city and is on a road that is one of the main approaches to campus. (photos of before and during renovations below)
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As such, the facility needed a design that reflected the institution, the needs of the religious groups meeting there, and the scale, materials, and architectural character of the surrounding neighborhood. The original 1912 building had a large front porch that is essentially re-created in the new front head- house as an interior porch. Given the use of the facility for religious gatherings, efforts to bring in as much natural light as possible were important to the design.
The biggest challenge for interior design of the building was to convert the main hall into a space that would allow for use by a variety of religious groups, each with very individual needs. As a result, the interiors were finished with very neutral colors with little adornment, to serve as a “blank slate” for each different user group. A half wall partitions off an area on one end of the hall, behind which serves as storage space for religious service items such as prayer rugs, chairs, cushions, and icons. Shades are also hung on the large windows, as a way to create darkness if desired for midday gatherings. Outside the meeting space are accessible restrooms, both male and female, each with ablution stations and cubby space for shoes.
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