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BU’s ‘Jenga Building’ is coming together above the Charles River

The glassy, 19-story computer science building will be a landmark on the city’s western skyline.

A view from across the Charles River of Boston University's Center for Computing & Data Sciences building (on right with crane on top of roof ) taking shape along Commonwealth Avenue.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Some see a stack of books, about to tumble into the Charles. Others see a Jenga game nearing its completion.

But for Boston University, the zigzagging tower going up on its campus along Commonwealth Avenue will be officially known as the Center for Computing & Data Sciences. And when it opens in January 2023, the Suffolk Construction-built edifice will be one of the greenest towers in the city. At about 350,000 square feet, a BU spokesman said, the $305 million computing center will be the largest carbon-neutral building in Boston.

Glass windows on the lower floors of Boston University's Center for Computing & Data Sciences reflect the more traditional Boston streetscape across Commonwealth Avenue.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The unusual design can be attributed to KPMB Architects, a Toronto-based firm selected to fashion a building that would “make a statement” and “mark the dynamic change in the University,” as president Robert Brown told BU Today in 2018. The 19-story building will mostly consist of classrooms, computer labs, meeting spaces, and offices, though the top two levels are for the mechanical systems.


It’s hard to argue that the building does not “make a statement,” particularly when it comes to environmental sustainability. BU will not use natural gas to heat the building; geothermal wells will provide the bulk of the heating and cooling. It will be the first fossil-fuel free building on BU’s campus.

Workers construct a part of the facade of Boston University's Center for Computing & Data Sciences building.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Jon Chesto can be reached at Follow him @jonchesto.