Solar living

Trustee Gordon donates $10 million for new dormitory

A new dormitory, aimed at stimulating the intellectual and social lives of undergraduates while also serving as a model for energy conservation, will be built on the Medford/Somerville campus and open in 2004.

The building will be named Sophia Gordon Hall in honor of the wife of Dr. Bernard Gordon, founder and chairman of Analogic Corp. and a trustee of Tufts University. Gordon has established the Gordon Foundation, which is the university's largest benefactor and which has donated $10 million for the new dormitory. Graham Gund Architects of Cambridge is designing the building, and groundbreaking will take place this summer. The project architect is Stephen P. Dadagian, A84, who designed a solar house as an undergraduate at Tufts nearly 20 years ago.

architectural rendering

Architect's rendering of Sophia Gordon Hall Courtesy of Graham Gund Architects

"Bernie has once again helped us to address a core need—housing for our undergraduates," said President Lawrence S. Bacow. "The new dorm will be the most energy-efficient building on the Tufts campus as befits its benefactor, one of the world's truly great engineers."

The 55,000-square-foot Sophia Gordon Hall will house 150 students and be built on land between Talbot Avenue and Professors Row. Its construction will require the removal of three houses, including the building that houses the Department of Music. A new $16 million music center will be constructed on the corner of Packard Avenue and Professors Row.

Green living
A key feature of the new dormitory will be rooftop solar panels, which will be capable of generating about a third of the energy the dormitory will use. Water will be heated via solar energy, and high performance windows are expected to reduce the need for air conditioning. The result will be a building that will not only cost less to operate than a conventional building but one that will generate less pollution.

Tufts received $500,000 from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust to support the design and construction of the photovoltaic cells that will generate the dorm's electricity. Monitors will display energy consumption in the building as way of reminding students how much energy they use.

The second key feature of the building will be an apartment for a faculty member who will be available to students for discussions and programs. In addition, there will be increased common space for study, meetings and community gatherings as well as a roof terrace and atrium.

Faculty-student interaction
At a meeting of the Arts, Sciences and Engineering faculty on April 2, Provost and Senior Vice President Jamshed Bharucha announced that funding will be available to initiate social, cultural and educational programs at the new dorm.

portrait of bernie gordan

Bernard M. Gordon © Richard Howard

The university Task Force on the Undergraduate Experience, which Bacow created in 2001, has been promoting the interaction between faculty and students outside the classroom as one way to enhance undergraduate education at Tufts. Gilbert Metcalf, the chair of the task force and professor of economics, said the dormitory will foster the kind of interaction the committee is seeking.

"The residence halls provide opportunities to contribute to our students' education, and we ought to take advantage of these opportunities," he said. "The plans for the new dorm provide a terrific vehicle for contributing to this. Not only are we putting faculty in proximity to students, but just as importantly, we are giving them a budget for programming, and that's the heart of what we are trying to do outside of the classroom. If Tufts is going to be a truly residential university, then we want to be contributing to the education of undergraduates in all aspects of their lives."

The gift for the dormitory is the most recent example of Gordon's philanthropy at Tufts. During the $600 million Tufts Tomorrow campaign, completed last summer, the Gordon Foundation pledged $20 million to support engineering education at Tufts. The university already has received $10 million to create the Bernard Gordon Fund. Bacow said that income from this fund will help recruit "the next generation of faculty" in both the School of Engineering and the Gordon Institute by supplementing salaries of newly hired faculty, equipping labs for new faculty and underwriting cost sharing for engineering faculty who apply for competitive foundation grants. Faculty receiving support from this fund will be designated as Bernard M. Gordon Faculty Fellows.

Far-reaching philanthropy
An additional $10 million the Gordon Foundation pledged to the School of Engineering is now in the form of a challenge grant. Ultimately, this grant is intended to leverage an additional $20 million in resources for the School of Engineering.

"Only an engineer of Bernie's ability and imagination could design a gift that has such a large potential impact on the university," said Bacow. "The $20 million we have received recently from Bernie will enhance student life at Tufts through the construction of a much-needed new residence hall and will help us build and strengthen our faculty in the School of Engineering. The challenge grant should ultimately produce an additional $30 million in support for the school, $10 million from the Gordon Foundation and $20 million from other sources."

"It has been a privilege to participate in Tufts activities, working with three presidents of Tufts University, Dr. Jean Mayer, Dr. John DiBiaggio and Dr. Bacow, and to be able to contribute to the expansion of facilities for the students and the strengthening and direction of Tufts School of Engineering," Gordon said.

In addition to his most recent philanthropy, Gordon previously underwrote the creation of the Gordon Institute at Tufts, which offers an innovative master of science degree in engineering management. Undergraduates can receive a combined B.S./M.S. degree from the School of Engineering and the Gordon Institute.

A recipient of the National Medal of Technology, Gordon is widely recognized as the father of high-speed analog-to-digital conversion. He has led teams that have created many breakthrough devices, including the fetal monitor, the instant-imaging CT scanner and an advanced security imaging system to help detect explosives and other contraband.