Boston University, Center for Computing & Data Sciences

KPMB Architects


“This is a very ambitious project that strives to be 100 percent free of fossil fuels. It’s also fitting into an established context, and does so quite elegantly. The interior brings together people and data, while encouraging them to engage with surrounding activities and public space. The building manages to balance its context, sustainability concerns, and the creation of a legible form, while also making an interesting envelope.” –Susan Fitzgerald, juror

A stacked-box form relates the Center to the scale of neighbouring buildings.

The Center for Computing & Data Sciences is one of a few major new buildings on Boston University’s Charles River Campus in half a century. Its program consolidates the departments of mathematics, statistics, and computer science into a 19-storey vertical campus that will be BU’s tallest building. Its transparent podium base aligns with the height of other buildings along Commonwealth Avenue; the setback, irregularly stacked boxes comprising its tower read as masses scaled to the context rather than one looming, outsized volume.

Site plan

Interaction zones in the podium include a café and a cascading promenade. A central atrium and a spiraling, interconnecting stair link all podium levels. The tower’s stacked floor plates generate terraced “neighbourhoods” for each department, with an event space in the topmost volume. Not long ago, the tower’s corners would likely have been allocated to private offices for senior faculty. Here, these prime pieces of real estate are reserved for focused collaboration.

On the ground level, collaboration areas, a café, and an outdoor plaza, courtyard and passageway connect the building to its urban surroundings.

Boston University’s Climate Action Plan aims to reduce the institution’s carbon emissions to zero by 2040, and the Center for Computing & Data Sciences will be the first building on any BU campus to be 100 percent fossil free. Geothermal wells provide the majority of its heating and cooling. In the envelope, transparent triple glazing is integrated with spandrel panel glass and insulated metal panels. Two exterior shade systems control solar heat gain and reduce the glare that can make viewing computer screens and whiteboards particularly challenging. On deeper floor plate zones, diagonal metal louvers in front of 60 percent glazing mitigate solar gain while driving daylight into the interior. In shallower single-bay floor plate zones, where daylight does not need to reach as deeply, prefinished metal sawtooth elements are vertically installed in tandem with 50 percent glazing.

A mix of diagonal and vertical louvers optimizes the solar performance of the tower, which is aiming to be 100 percent fossil-fuel free.
Louver details

Offering expansive river views on three sides, the Center inspires students and faculty immersed in the digital realm to look up, and outward: to pause in the realm of the real and be reminded that every action is interconnected to humanity, the Earth, and the Universe.

CLIENT Boston University | ARCHITECT TEAM Bruce Kuwabara (FRAIC, design partner), Marianne McKenna (FRAIC, partner-in-charge), Luigi LaRocca (FRAIC, senior project manager), Paulo Rocha (design principal/project architect), Lucy Timbers (project architect/project manager) David Smythe (senior associate), Matt Krivosudsky (associate), Allison Jang, Amin Monsefi, Armine Tadevosyan, Audley Cummings, Caleb McGinn, Carolyn Lee, Erik Skouris, Fotini Pitoglou, Giulio Bruno, Gloria Zhou, Jesse Bird, Joseph Kahn, Joy Charbonneau, Kael Opie, Katrina Munroe, Kevin Bridgman, Klaudia Lengyel, Melissa Ng, Nicholas Wong, Olena Chorny, Olivia Di Felice, Ramin Yamin, Sam Hart, Tyler Hall, Tyler Loewen, Victor Garzon | STRUCTURAL Entuitive + LeMessurier Consultants | MEP/SECURITY/IT/COMMUNICATIONS BR+A Consulting Engineers | ENVELOPE Entuitive | CIVIL Nitsch Engineering | GEOTECHNICAL/GEOTHERMAL Haley & Aldrich | LANDSCAPE Richard Burck Associates | LIGHTING Dot Dash | CLIMATE Transsolar | LEED The Green Engineer | ELEVATOR Soberman Engineering | FIRE AND LIFE SAFETY Jensen Hughes | ACOUSTICS/AV Acentech | ENVIRONMENTAL RWDI DOOR HARDWARE Robbie McCabe | FOOD SERVICES Ricca Design Studios | SPECIFICATIONS Brian Ballantyne | ELEVATOR Soberman | EXTERIOR SIGNAGE Anna Farrington | COMMISSIONING WSP | TRANSPORTATION AECOM | COSTING Turner & Townsend | FAÇADE MAINTENANCE Lerch Bates | PHYSICAL SECURITY Atriade | OWNER’S PROJECT MANAGER Compass | CONSTRUCTION MANAGER AND GENERAL CONTRACTOR Suffolk| AREA 32,052 m? | BUDGET $288 M | CURRENT STAGE Under construction ANTICIPATED COMPLETION Fall 2022