Boston University unveils plans for book-inspired data sciences center on Comm. Ave.

New Developments News Allston-Brighton Fenway-Kenmore
A rendering of the proposed  Boston University Data Sciences Center looking north-east on Commonwealth Avenue.
A rendering of the proposed Boston University Data Sciences Center looking northeast on Commonwealth Avenue. Courtesy of KPMB Architects

In a few years, the biggest “books” on Boston University’s campus may not be in the library.

The university unveiled plans Monday for its latest project on Commonwealth Avenue: a 17-story tower that would resemble a stack of books, slated to be the future home of the Boston University Data Sciences Center.

The proposed building, designed by Toronto-based KPMB Architects, at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Granby Street is intended to be an iconic structure to highlight the university’s focus on conjoining the computer science and mathematics and statistics departments in one location, according to BU Today, the school’s news service.

When it’s finished, it would be the tallest building on campus, school officials said. It’s destined to be the “first major teaching center on the Charles River Campus in a half century,” an email from school representatives sent to says.

A rendering of the view looking north on Granby Street from Commonwealth Avenue. —Courtesy of KPMB Architects

“We wanted architecture that would signal to everyone that this was a special place, the center of campus,” BU President Robert Brown told BU Today. “Because it’s data science, we wanted it to mirror the century we’re in now, not centuries past. We weren’t looking to build a building that would have looked novel in 1900 or 1850. We wanted a building that in 2100 would stand up and mark the dynamic change in the University and talk about the century we’re in.”

While the project still needs city approval, plans call for a four-story base to the building, with 13 floors stacked on top of it, each one just a bit off center as they rise up, according to BU Today. The 17 floors do not include the basement and top floor, which would be used for storing utilities.

A rendering of the proposed building as seen from Commonwealth Avenue. —Courtesy of KPMB Architects

According to Gary Nicksa, the university’s senior vice president for operations, the city will review aspects of the project officials have taken into consideration, such as the building’s shape and size, the potential wind tunnels it could form, and the shadows it would create.

University officials said there is a large demand for data education from students across several disciplines, and the new building puts an emphasis on fostering collaboration between the different departments.

The tower’s interior would feature whiteboard walls and terraced platforms to promote the exchange of ideas while also incorporating green technology such as geothermal wells in its heating and cooling systems, the email said.

A rendering of the “collaboration terraces” that would connect the ground and second floors. —Courtesy of KPMB Architects

Pedestrian pathways and green space would connect the site to the university’s brownstones on Bay State Road.

Following an initial groundbreaking, construction is expected to wrap up in the spring of 2022, university representatives said.

The approval process with the city could take up to a year to complete. Site preparation is anticipated to start next spring.

The view looking west down Commonwealth Avenue from Kenmore Square. —Courtesy of KPMB Architects