BU to Build Data Sciences Center

BU Data Sciences Center / rendering courtesy KPMB Architects

Boston – Boston University has announced plans to build the BU Data Sciences Center, a 17-floor tower on Commonwealth Avenue in the heart of BU’s Charles River Campus. The project is the first major teaching center on the Charles River Campus in a half century and will be BU’s tallest building.

Designed by the Toronto architectural firm KPMB Architects, the proposed plans for the center include a four-story base, or “podium,” topped by 13 floors, each floor slightly off center from the one below it so that it resembles a stack of books. The 17 floors do not include the top floor and the basement, which will hold mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.

Sciences Center entrance / rendering courtesy KPMB Architects

The building will feature an iconic design, including a series of terraced platforms that runs almost the entire length of the building, intended for small-group interactions; whiteboard walls for jotting down ideas; and a collaboration ramp that will be dotted with small gathering spaces for quick, spontaneous conversations. It will also feature green technologies to advance BU’s climate action plan and to account for

the risks posed by increases in sea level and climate change.

The university is considering using low-flow and high-efficiency plumbing fixtures as well as LED light features and geothermal wells to provide most of the building’s heating and cooling, sheltered pedestrian pathways, enhanced green space, and seamless connections to historic brownstones on Bay State Road and to Commonwealth Ave.

Following an approval process with the city of Boston that could take up to a year, the project is expected to begin site preparation in spring 2019 with an estimated completion of spring 2022.

Why now?

  • Data science is booming from an educational and employment perspective. BU has seen a 23% increase in teaching credit hours for math and statistics from the 2006-2007 to the 2016-2017 academic year with computer science having a 266% increase.
  • Non-majors recognize the importance of data in fields ranging from business to health, the arts, engineering and more, and have increasingly enrolled in data science and computational science classes.
  • Boston features a wealth of technology, computer science and data science companies that are looking to employ the next generation workforce. Furthermore, cited data scientist as the fastest growing job, three years in a row. This facility will help BU educate tomorrow’s creators, inventors, critical thinkers and problem solvers.
  • Disciplines are no longer siloed, and to be an urban interdisciplinary research institution, BU must offer the necessary space and design to foster collaboration. This new facility will bring together the mathematics and statistics and computer science departments under one roof. It will also house the interdisciplinary Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computer and Computational Science & Engineering.