Tufts University Dowling Hall

Medford, MA


Tufts University


Renovation of 12,000 SF of 7th floor of Dowling Hall to accommodate dedicated Welcome Center for visiting parents with prospective students as well as flexible space for university events and branded wayfinding for garage levels below.


The 7th floor of Dowling Hall at Tufts University was dedicated to Student Services and Admissions. With the ongoing move to more web-based service formats, physical space requirements for Student Services have decreased. Unused space in the lobby and lecture room was gradually taken over by Admissions as their needs increased. PCA was asked to evaluate current overall staff needs in order to reactivate underutilized space to create a flexible, dedicated Welcome Center and university event space.


PCA studied student services needs to define a program for staff that would reflect modern requirements for more break-out and meeting spaces and smaller personal spaces. The reconfiguration results in 6,000 SF of space that can be booked for admissions and welcome center programming.

A clean, traditionally designed gallery space showcases Tufts in a way that speaks to a wide audience – from a large infographic composed of interconnecting messages and topics to colorful, artistic vignettes describing life as a student to a central hanging sculpture in the building skylight – to be designed by a Tufts alum – that talks about Tufts as a brand in an artistic, subtle way.

The curved wall of the lecture hall creates a literal “portal” to Tufts, with the Tufts logo used on walls inside and facts about Tufts embedded in the seat backs. The classic, elegant reception desk doubles as a bar or serving station for university events. Flexible seating can be reconfigured for crowds or smaller groups, with a range of seating for visitors from the outdoor café style seating accessed through the operable storefront of the entry vestibule to the quiet living room.

New wayfinding creates a stronger presence on the street level and in the garage of Dowling Hall, streamlining the visitor experience and making the initial introduction to visitors arriving by car.

The design creates a welcoming space for parents and potential students as they wait for tours and information sessions – a place to meet people, and to learn about the Tufts brand – rooted in a longstanding tradition of solid education and life skills to create the a foundation for a wide-open life of many possibilities.