To advance a Climate Action Plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, Boston University has recently broken ground on the Center for Computing & Data Sciences, a 19-floor complex expected to become the “University’s and Boston’s biggest and most sustainable, energy-efficient building” once built. Toronto-based firm KPMB Architects led the design of the 345,000-square-foot project, which will house BU’s mathematics, statistics and computer science departments under one roof. The tower, which will be the tallest building on campus, will feature a suite of energy-saving and energy-generating technologies, including geothermal wells, state-of-the-art shading systems and triple-glazed windows.

rendering of staggered wood and glass tower

Located at the heart of the campus, the Center for Computing & Data Sciences will be the university’s first major teaching center in half a century and is slated for completion in 2022. Key to the design of the tower is the “vertical campus” concept that encourages a sense of community over 19 floors. In addition to maximizing transparency and accessibility, the architects have strategically configured the building to house the most-trafficked areas — such as the classrooms, learning labs and functional spaces — on the lower levels, while the upper floors contain the university departments. The rooftop hosts quiet lunch and meeting spaces optimized for concentration. Collaborative spaces will be woven throughout, including expansive whiteboard walls and a series of terraced platforms for small-group interactions.

Related: The new Center for Student Services is a sustainable gateway for Boston University

rendering of staggered tower with patterned facade
rendering of college students walking around outside building with glass walls

“The new Center for Computing & Data Sciences building makes a dynamic urban place that is a crossroads and a beacon for Boston University’s central campus,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The design maximizes opportunities for mixing, interaction and interconnectivity. The building serves as a platform for innovation formatted as a vertical campus. Every element is integrated to establish Data Sciences as Boston University’s new iconic heart.”

rendering of college students studying in chairs in room with glass walls
rendering of college students walking and talking in room with wood ceilings and glass walls

To meet net-zero energy standards, the Center will depend on a ground-source heat exchange system with 31 1,500-foot-deep geothermal wells for heating and cooling. Energy loss will be minimized with external sun shading devices, triple-glazed windows, enhanced heating and ventilation systems and LED lighting. The tower will also be built 5 feet above the city for Boston’s suggested level for sea level rise.

+ KPMB Architects

Images via KPMB Architects

rendering of body of water with a tall, staggering tower on the horizon