Tufts’ construction of eight new squash courts — a 13,500-square foot addition to the Gantcher Center — is about a third of the way complete, according to Gretchen Von Grossmann, director of capital programs. ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge, a Boston-based architecture firm, designed the courts.
At a community meeting held in the Alumnae Lounge on Sept. 12 and in a later email interview with the Daily, Von Grossmann gave an update on construction.
“We’ve finished work on excavation, building the foundations, and installing structural steel,” she said in the email. “Our near-term goals are to complete the roof and exterior wall framing.”
The new facility will house eight squash courts, a spectator area, storage space and a team room, according to Von Grossmann. One glass show court will have spaces for viewing on three sides.
Site clearing began May 28. The facade is scheduled to be completed on Nov. 4.
Tufts currently has no regulation-size squash courts. At a width of 18 feet, the courts currently in Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center do not comply with the international standard for squash of almost 21 feet. According to Joseph Raho, coach of the Tufts men’s and women’s squash teams, 18 feet was the international standard around 20 years ago.
“This facility will give our men’s and women’s [teams] a place to call home,” Raho told the Daily in an email.
During the season, the teams travel to the Belmont Hill School, a private boys school, and Harvard University to practice. Practices are often late at night and travel time is significant, so players make a serious commitment to be on the team.
“From a training and practice perspective the new squash center will help so much because the players on both teams won’t have to waste so much time traveling to and from another facility. Also we will practice at more normal times so that [players] can get home, work on their studies and then go to bed at a reasonable hour,” he said.
The new courts also present an advantage from a recruiting perspective, since prospective students interested in playing squash will now see that Tufts has invested in the teams’ success, Raho explained.
ASB Squash Courts, a global squash court manufacturer, is building the new facilities, according to Raho.
According to Von Grossmann and Raho, the courts are projected to be completed by Jan. 24, with play beginning in February, if construction proceeds seamlessly. Teams will play the last few matches of the season at the new center, Raho said.
To accommodate neighbors’ needs, mechanical equipment will be kept in a small room adjacent to the courts to tamper noise, Von Grossman explained at the meeting. The addition’s facade only has one small window in the team room to limit light pollution that could impact neighbors. The complex is designed to let light in, with tall ceilings and a skylight.
“The project team is exploring landscaping options to provide additional privacy for our neighbors,” Von Grossmann added.
Connor Wind, a senior on the squash team, expressed excitement about the new facilities.
“We are incredibly excited to have home courts and they are going to do a lot to help the team,” he told the Daily in an electronic message. “We currently have to travel to other courts to play and it is difficult to get enough time and space to train.”