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CHESTO MEANS BUSINESS

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.

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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 jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him @jonchesto.