Tufts University, Stormwater Improvement Project and Joyce Cummings Center

Medford, MA
Key Elements
  • Holistic stormwater management
  • District-scale hydraulic model
  • ACEC/MA Engineering Excellence Award

To understand the causes of flooding at the Tufts University Tisch Sports & Fitness Center, Nitsch developed a district-scale hydraulic model of 261 acres of watershed including Tufts’ Campus, nearby Medford neighborhoods, and adjacent Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) rail lines. Based on an analysis of the results, Nitsch designed a rerouted system that increased capacity to support both current and future development – the Stormwater Improvement Project.

The Stormwater Improvement Project alleviated the localized flooding issues Tufts had experienced near the Tisch Sports & Fitness Center and allows Tufts to address stormwater management in this area from a more comprehensive and holistic perspective. It is an example for other urban campuses on how to successfully manage stormwater from a district-scale rather than project-by-project – improving sustainability and resilience, and saving owners time and money.

Working directly for Tufts, Nitsch provided planning, land surveying, civil engineering, permitting support, and traffic management services, as well as project management and stakeholder coordination for three key project phases: the construction of the SIP core elements (Phase 1 and Phase 2) and the construction of the new Joyce Cummings Center (Phase 3). We prepared a complex hydraulic model that included both the Tufts Campus and the Burget/Sunset neighborhoods to understand how stormwater flows through the existing drainage system and to analyze existing and proposed drainpipe networks for the 2-, 10-, 25-, and 100-year 24-hour storm events.

As this analysis indicated that the existing system was undersized based on current engineering practices, Nitsch prepared four conceptual solutions for Tufts and the City to consider as next steps. This led to a multi-year SIP design and construction process that ensured the system would have the capacity to handle both current and the planned future conditions on campus. The solution reroutes the stormwater runoff from the City’s Burget/Sunset neighborhoods into a new 48-inch pipe located to the east of the Joyce Cummings Center, which required a complex pipe jacking initiative. Stormwater then flows into an approximately 1.3-million-gallon detention/infiltration system, providing detention/infiltration for additional impervious area volume from future development projects.

This project won a 2023 American Council of Engineering Companies/MA (ACEC/MA) Engineering Excellence Bronze Award.

“Nitsch Engineering’s ability to navigate complicated problems, multiple stakeholder requirements, and think about the longer term campus uses was very valuable for Tufts.”

Ruth Bennett, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Director, Capital Programs, Tufts University

Key Collaborators

Owner: Tufts University
Owner’s Project Manager: Leggat McCall Properties
Geotechnical Engineer: GEI Consultants
General Contractor (Phase 1): J.F. White
General Contractor (Phase 2): BOND Civil and Utility
Landscape Architect (Phase 3): Ground Inc.
MEP Consultant (Phase 3): BR+A Consulting Engineers
Architect of Record and Construction Manager (Phase 3): PROCON Construction