Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Tufte Performance and Production Center (plus two adjoining structures)

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Institution Name: Emerson College
Original/Historic Place Name: Tufte Performance and Production Center (plus two adjoining structures)
Location on Campus: 10 Boylston Pl.
Date(s) of Construction:
1893original construction of Walker Building Winslow & Wetherell
1901addition to Walker Building Winslow & Bigelow
1903construction information unknown
2003roof installed on Walker Building; Tufte completed Elkus Manfredi Architects
Designer: Winslow & Wetherell (Boston); Winslow & Bigelow (Boston); Elkus Manfredi Architects
Type of Place: Building group
Style: Romanesque revival, Contemporary (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1998-present (2006)classrooms
1998-present (2006)academic department building (Walker Building)
2003-present (2006)other (acting studios, design technology laboratories, television studio)
2003-present (2006)theater (two)

Since 1991, Emerson College has been relocating from brownstone structures in the Back Bay residential neighborhood into turn-of-the-century commercial structures in Boston's Midtown Cultural District. Two of the buildings purchased in the Midtown Cultural District bordered a small open lot in the center of an urban block. One is the Cutler Majestic Theatre. The other is the Walker Building, a handsome and well preserved early office building designed by the prominent Boston firm of Winslow and Wetherell. Construction was completed in 1893, and an addition was built in 1901 by the successor firm of Winslow and Bigelow. This structure originally had as tenants several major piano companies and 9 architectural firms. Both historic structures are part of the Piano Row District National Register Historic District (listed December 9, 1980 as part of the Historic Resources of the Boston Theatre Area Multiple Resource Nomination).

In 2000, construction began on the Tufte Performance and Production Center, which is scheduled opened in Fall 2003. This new structure contains facilities that will support student productions and instruction, including two theatres, acting studios, design technology labs, and a state of the art television studio. It will also provide a loading dock and dressing rooms to support the operation of the adjacent Cutler Majestic Theatre, as well as access to the College's classrooms, library, and academic computing labs in the adjoining Walker Building via connections on the 5th and 6th floors.

According to Emerson President Jacqueline W. Liebergott, "The project will also represent a bold public statement of who we are, what we stand for and where we are headed." Indeed, the Tufte PPC is the physical representation of the Emerson curriculum that links the "heads-on" classroom instruction that takes place in the Walker Building with the "hands-on" professional training and performances in the restored Cutler Majestic Theatre.

The Tufte Performance and Production Center, together with the buildings to which it connects on two sides, represents a unique architectural statement, as well as a creative and effective combination of historic restoration, adaptive reuse, and new construction in a densely built urban environment.


Fox, Pamela J. Theatre Area Preservation Study. Report. Boston, MA: Boston Landmarks Commission, June 1979.

Jenkins, Candace. Piano Row District [Emerson College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1980.

Walker Building addition [Emerson College]. Building information form. Boston: Boston Landmarks Commission, [n.d.].


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Last update: November 2006