BU Today

Campus Life + Science & Tech

BU Proposes to Build Data Sciences Center, Aiming to Become Leader in Booming Field

Charles River Campus building would put math, statistics, computer science under one roof

  • BU has announced plans to build the BU Data Sciences Center
  • It would be the first major Charles River Campus teaching center in a half century and the tallest building on campus
  • By bringing the mathematics and statistics and computer science departments under one roof, BU furthers its efforts to become one of the country’s leading urban interdisciplinary research institutions


Data scientist is the hottest occupation in the country, and on October 1 BU President Robert A. Brown announced that the University plans to be a leader in educating the next generation in the field by building a dramatic 17-floor tower on Commonwealth Avenue to house the new BU Data Sciences Center.

“This is the science that’s going to change the way we behave, driving our behavior for the next 50 or 100 years,” Brown says.

With the proposed project, BU would build the first major teaching center on the Charles River Campus in a half century, and the tallest building on campus. By bringing the mathematics and statistics and computer science departments under one roof, BU will also further its efforts to become one of the leading urban interdisciplinary research institutions in the country.

“What field today is not reliant on data?” says Azer Bestavros, a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and College of Arts & Sciences professor of computer science and founding director of the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering. “Students across every major want to take these courses. It’s becoming the bread and butter for every student’s education. Data science is now a unifier across disciplines.”

For good reason.

Google handles 40,000 searches every second, or 3.5 billion per day. Every minute, 4.1 million videos are watched on YouTube, nearly a million Tinder swipes are made, 456,000 tweets are sent on Twitter, and Instagram users share nearly 50,000 photos. Roughly 11 million Apple Pay transactions are made every day.

All of those actions generate unfathomable amounts of data that companies gobble up, analyze, and use to grow their business. All that data has also opened up a minefield of ethical and moral questions around privacy that the government and the private sector are both wrestling with how to contain or exploit.

Azer Bestavros Founding Director of the Hariri Institute

“Students across every major want to take these courses. It’s becoming the bread and butter for every student’s education. Data science is now a unifier across disciplines.”

Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer, says that sheer numbers support BU’s major investment in data science. She says the University saw a 23 percent increase in teaching credit hours for math and statistics from the 2006–2007 to the 2016–2017 academic year. And computer science saw a 266 percent increase.

A major factor driving the growth is not just the increase in students who want to major in the computational science fields. It’s the rise in interest from nonmajors, who now recognize that no matter what their passion—public relations, engineering, business, nutrition, the arts—chances are high that data will play a role in it. And the more they understand the basics of computational science, the better position they will be in as they apply for jobs.

“So there’s just explosive demand for these disciplines by both undergraduates and graduate students at BU and nationally,” Morrison says. “This is a national-level trend.”

Creating employable students for a data-rich workforce

Wayfair, General Electric, Amazon, Google, Fidelity, TripAdvisor, Athenahealth, DraftKings, HubSpot, Partners HealthCare, Blue Cross Blue Shield. Greater Boston is overflowing with companies that live and breathe on data, creating an intensive demand for workers who understand how to decipher it.

“This is a defining moment, with what’s going on in Boston,” says Eric Kolaczyk, a CAS professor of mathematics and statistics, director of the Program in Statistics, and cochair of a group convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to study data-science education. “The opportunities for synergy are incredible, not just for internships, but for work, and that’s one of the biggest selling points for students,” he says.

In a report this year from the job search website Glassdoor.com, which used tens of millions of its own data points to determine the fastest-growing job categories, data scientist came out on top for the third straight year. Glassdoor cited high demand, good pay, and strong job satisfaction as the reasons. “Not only are tech companies scrambling to hire data scientists, but industries across the board, from healthcare to nonprofits to retail, are also searching for this talent,” says Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist.

Aerial view of the Granby Street parking lot on Boston University's Charles River Campus.

This aerial photo of the Granby Street parking lot, between Bay State Road and Commonwealth Avenue, shows where the new BU Data Sciences Center would be built if approved, standing out as the new heart of the Charles River Campus. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

BU expects that its evolving computational science curriculum, renowned faculty and staff, and especially the new building at the corner of Comm Ave and Granby Street (where a parking lot now sits) will all be essential drivers of that changing workforce.

Tammy Qiu (CAS’19, CFA’19) came to BU from the Bay Area four years ago with a dilemma: “I was interested in art, but also art and science. I didn’t have an idea of how to integrate the two.” Four years later, she’s a dual major in graphic design and computer science and is set to graduate next spring.

Qiu says what students want from any university is to feel more employable. And she’s noticed more recruiting activity at BU in the last two years from major brands like Facebook and Google. “A significant amount of other graphic design majors are very much interested in visualization and embedding technology into their works,” she says. “They are realizing there isn’t much of a barrier anymore between art and technology.”

A building designed for the future

Designed by the Toronto architectural firm KPMB Architects, the proposed plans for the center start with a 4-story base, or “podium,” topped by 13 floors, each floor slightly off center from the one below it so that it resembles a stack of books. The 17 floors do not include the top floor and the basement, which will hold mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.

“They asked us for something—they used the word ‘iconic,’” says Marianne McKenna, a KPMB Architects founding partner.

McKenna says the building base is about engaging the student body, so that along Comm Ave, passersby can look in and look up and see people working on the collaborative terraces. She estimates that it would take 24 to 28 months to construct from the groundbreaking. And she says that when it’s done, it will be hard to miss from across the river, where Harvard and MIT sit.

x

Looking west down Comm Ave from Kenmore Square, this rendering shows how the proposed Data Sciences Center would immediately become the most recognizable and visible building on the Charles River Campus, an architectural statement unlike anything else at BU. Image courtesy of KPMB Architects

“That brings a lot of pride to the University,” she says. “It’s important the University have that ambition.”

Brown agrees, and says he pushed for a design unlike anything Boston, or BU, has seen. “I always think about what someone said to me many years ago,” he says. ‘“A remarkable piece of architecture is architecture about which everyone makes a remark.’ That doesn’t mean they’ll love it or hate it, but it will be a remarkable piece of architecture.”

The plans call for sheltered pedestrian pathways, enhanced green space around the building, and seamless connections to both the historic brownstones on Bay State Road along the Charles River and to the bustle of Comm Ave.

Gary Nicksa, BU senior vice president for operations, describes the Data Sciences Center as a “vertical campus building,” because of the way the departments are designed like academic neighborhoods, connected by a central atrium and spiraling stairway that would foster collaboration and communication. He says the public approval process with the city will focus on the size and shape of the building, the wind tunnels it might create, and the shadows it will cast. But he also says that BU and KPMB took all of those issues seriously in the design process.

“The city has embraced the idea of more remarkable architecture,” Nicksa says. “The overall tone is that the city and community are encouraging better architecture. Which means there will be a lot of discussion about this.”

x

One element of the proposed Data Sciences Center that BU officials are especially excited about are the numerous collaboration spaces designed to encourage both spontaneous and planned conversations among people from the worlds of mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Image courtesy of KPMB Architects

In addition to being a public building, the center will be an open, glass-enclosed space of learning labs, classrooms, and meeting spaces. Floors three through five will house the mathematics and statistics department, recognized in part for decades-long contributions to the landmark Framingham Heart Study, the nation’s longest-running epidemiological study, begun in 1948 and run by BU since 1971, supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The fifth floor will also have a lunch space and meeting rooms. Computer science will mostly fill floors 6 through 10. The interdisciplinary Hariri Institute will be in the top six floors. The first two floors will house administrative offices.

Inside, the design’s focus is on collaboration, with a series of terraced platforms intended for small-group interactions running almost the entire length of the building. Whiteboard walls will be everywhere to encourage scribbling and help turn hallway conversations into fleshed-out ideas. And a collaboration ramp will be dotted with small gathering spaces along the way for quick, spontaneous conversations.

“We wanted architecture that would signal to everyone that this was a special place, the center of campus,” Brown says. “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.”

Timing is everything

“Computer scientists have been around for decades,” says Kolaczyk. “Statisticians have been around for decades. But the availability of data, and measuring every element of data, that’s what’s changed so quickly.”

Big data is playing a particularly major role in healthcare, allowing hospitals and doctors to move toward more personalized medicine.

As one example, Boston University and Boston Medical Center, led by Yannis Paschalidis, a College of Engineering professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Center for Information & Systems Engineering, have won a three-year, $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop machine learning algorithms and identify high-risk patients for heart disease or diabetes. Those algorithms will then be used for early, highly personalized intervention.

“We can now analyze what happens to patients in real time and characterize the status and health condition of each individual,” Paschalidis recently told HealthITAnalytics.com.

The days when a few analysts in an office could plug a few hundred numbers into an Excel spreadsheet and compute valuable results are gone, Kolaczyk says. “We need to enable the world to intelligently consume data. This is where education comes in.”

Robert A. Brown Boston University President

“We wanted architecture that would signal to everyone that this was a special place, the center of campus….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.”

And BU’s efforts in the field have already been paying off, he says. A new Master of Science in Statistical Practice has a class this year of 45 students, selected from a competitive group of 500 applicants. Alumni from the program have found employment throughout data-intensive industries like biomedicine (Boston Medical Center, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis), finance (Bank of China, Citizens Bank, Lobel Financial), consulting (Deloitte), insurance (John Hancock, Liberty Mutual), and technology (Amazon, Criteo, Spotify).

Brown emphasizes that BU made the decision to invest in computational sciences because it was already a powerhouse discipline at the University. “We’re very good in these fields, so this is not about trying to build strength from weakness,” he says. “We just need to get bigger. Because of the demand in terms of applications, the areas we can cover are just growing so fast. Our computer scientists are very good; we have a very fine department. It’s stretched to its limits.”

Abraham Matta, a CAS professor and chair of computer science, says his daughter is an example of this new data-driven world. She studied economics, but she also took programming and statistics classes—and now she’s a data analyst and business analyst. “A little training in data science can open doors,” Matta says.

Both the Hariri Institute’s Bestavros and Matta acknowledge wishing that BU had acted sooner with this investment, maybe five years ago, before data science had fully exploded as a field. But by waiting, they also say, BU can now benefit by learning from the experiences of others and taking full advantage of the booming data workforce building in Boston.

“Now makes a lot of sense,” Bestavros says, “because now we’re doing it with eyes wide open. The breadth of BU, combined with its location, should make us the envy of many universities.

“If I were not at BU, I would envy BU.”

65 Comments
Doug Most, Executive Editor
Doug Most

Doug Most can be reached at dmost@bu.edu.

65 Comments on BU Proposes to Build Data Sciences Center, Aiming to Become Leader in Booming Field

  • Nathan Phillips on 10.01.2018 at 5:23 am

    I read in the Daily Free Press that this building will be heated with geothermal energy. Can that be confirmed? With the purchase of 100% renewable (wind) electricity, there is a chance to make this a net zero, or even net positive energy building (if rooftop solar is installed). Let’s make sure the building itself lives up to the innovation that it is designed to promote among its inhabitants!

    • Walt Meissner on 10.03.2018 at 11:03 am

      Yes, I can confirm the use of geothermal energy to heat and cool this building is in the plan. Independent of the University’s power purchase agreements offsetting our energy uses with renewable energy (wind & solar), we are hoping this building can be fossil fuel free. Our ability to achieve this, however, will depend on the energy results of the test wells we will drill this coming spring – how many wells, how deep, etc. We do indeed want the building to live up to this dream.

    • jc on 10.09.2018 at 1:37 pm

      BU already has some iconic buildings but doesn’t need this ugly design in the proposed site It might work at another site but should not be so close toCAS. Buildings need to blend in with each other You can have old with new but not this building
      Remember once it is built it will be there for decades People will make fun of it
      These buildings have lots of
      maintenance issues which can be costly
      I know you want something “iconic” but most important is a functional inviting building where work can be done
      There are better sites for future unusual buildings that would fit in
      such as next to BU bridge,across from student union or parking lot in kenmore square in front of the beautiful Yakey center
      Please don’t destroy the look of CAS with this weird building

  • Megan on 10.01.2018 at 7:41 am

    God, it’s so ugly. Please just use the money to fix the building we already have, I’m tired of all this unnecessary construction for the sake of clout.

  • John Gates on 10.01.2018 at 8:01 am

    Very Interesting.
    Are there more drawings/rendering showing the “sheltered pedestrian pathways, enhanced green space around the building, and seamless connections to both the historic brownstones on Bay State Road along the Charles River and to the bustle of Comm Ave.green spaces”?
    Thank-you.

  • Sam on 10.01.2018 at 8:38 am

    I hope that sketch in the article is just a proposal. Aesthetically that building is very unappealing. Looks like there will be lots of falling ice in the winter.

  • Mandala Ravi on 10.01.2018 at 8:38 am

    It is really fantastic. This Data Science centre is going to be remarkable centre in USA. Hope BU may reach world number one position in ranking under Analytics specilization. I also feel all ongoing students of Analytics course may get ample opportunities in getting On Job Training and Jobs in Top notch companies. I wish BU to grow to top 20 positions in world rankings

  • MMO on 10.01.2018 at 8:46 am

    Buildings generally look better in these kinds of draft drawings then they do when completed. Please consider how this will look once the windows are dirty and city pollution has streaked it. It will dominate the BU campus for decades and may not be the look we want associated with the University. Why not use the attractive style used for the Business school / administration building?

    • student on 10.01.2018 at 11:56 am

      The business school/administration buildings are possibly the plainest/ugliest buildings on campus. The entire point is to stand out and not fade into the background of all the buildings around it.

      • cait on 10.01.2018 at 2:10 pm

        i completely disagree i think questrom is really beautiful. also there are plenty of ways BU can stand out other than having a building that looks like a dumb modern version of the leaning tower of pisa. it doesn’t match any of the architecture on campus and has no aesthetic beauty.

      • FB on 10.01.2018 at 7:06 pm

        Fully agree. We need Architecture around us … not just buildings. People will learn to like it. It will be a landmark for the campus.

  • Abby on 10.01.2018 at 9:21 am

    will there be forums for input

  • Alum ‘16 on 10.01.2018 at 10:36 am

    It’s good that BU will be offering more for data science, a relevant and marketable skill for students and a discipline to further explore and incorporate for researchers; but this is a terribly ugly, jenga inspired building. This and the Booth Theatre mark a move away from any sort of attempt to improve architectural cohesiveness.

  • Dan on 10.01.2018 at 10:49 am

    Yikes! When I see a building proposal that looks that terrible, I don’t even want to read the article. Anything good is outweighed by how just awful that thing looks.
    Also what’s with the shadow people on the sub-roofs?

  • Ben Mason on 10.01.2018 at 12:21 pm

    “If I were not at BU I would envy BU”

    Or literally anything else

  • MaryBU on 10.01.2018 at 12:31 pm

    Even though I’m a CPA who likes everything lined up in rows and columns, I love the look of this proposed building! It reminds me of a stack of school books. So much exciting is happening on campus these days. Wish I could go back for another year with only the cares I had the first time around!

  • Sari on 10.01.2018 at 12:40 pm

    Will this be a USGBC LEED Certified building? I hope that this building is constructed with BU’s sustainability goals and climate action plan in mind.

    • Student on 10.01.2018 at 6:52 pm

      Another article on this said it would be LEED gold v4

    • Walt Meissner on 10.03.2018 at 11:10 am

      Yes, that is correct. We expect the building to achieve at least LEED Gold or higher.

  • Jonathan Krivine on 10.01.2018 at 2:19 pm

    Bravo! Both symbolically and pragmatically, a symbol that we have arrived. Make it happen.

  • A concerned Sargent faculty member on 10.01.2018 at 2:36 pm

    Sargent College, right next door to this building, has many “patients” who come in to help teach students in MANY different courses. They use this current parking lot very regularly, and I fear there will be no accessible parking options for people who need to be close to Sargent. Will there be parking options included in that building? Perhaps an underground garage? I know we’re trying to be green, but those patients cannot physically take public transportation or walk far distances to come provide valuable learning experiences for our students.

    • Timothy Dunn on 10.03.2018 at 12:35 pm

      Good Afternoon,

      Dedicated Handicap parking spaces will be located on Commonwealth Avenue directly in front of Sargent College for those guests with state issued placards. Guest parking will also be available a short distance away in the Kenmore Lot, 549 Commonwealth Avenue.

      Timothy Dunn
      Operations Manager, Parking & Transportation Services

      • A concerned Sargent on 10.03.2018 at 2:31 pm

        Thank you for your response. But I have to push back on these suggestions. There is not enough street parking for the amount of patients we have many times during the week. And the Kenmore lot is too far to walk for many, not to mention the red light often reads “full.” And then what? They just turn around and go home?
        If there are planned forums for faculty/staff to get involved and come up with solutions, please send out an e-mail. I haven’t been aware of any ways Sargent can have their voices heard about a building that practically touches some of our office walls and classrooms. Perhaps that is “just the way these things go,” but it would be nice to have some dialogue.

        • Timothy Dunn on 10.03.2018 at 4:36 pm

          More than happy to discuss further via a phone call to walk through any potential solutions for patients. My number is (617) 353-2160.

          Timothy Dunn
          Operations Manager, Parking & Transportation Services

  • MET Alum on 10.01.2018 at 2:59 pm

    The tower is interesting but that base has to be changed.

  • David Russell on 10.01.2018 at 4:33 pm

    President Brown mentions the year 2100 and how people will view the building. Lets build this building and all buildings with the environment in mind. net-zero carbon footprint, Resilient technologies (please don’t put all of the utilities in the basement, the Charles river is not that far away), etc

  • Alumni on 10.01.2018 at 5:01 pm

    The investment in data science is a great move, and I love the idea of making an architectural statement. Also, the interior of the building looks really well thought out – and is both beautiful and functional. However, the building exterior is just too out of place. Go big, go bold, but do a better job of blending into the architectural cohesiveness of the campus!

    This is the first architectural change to the campus that I’ve disagreed with since I was a freshman (2003). I actually think the exterior is so ugly, that it upsets me as alumni.

  • Future Alum on 10.01.2018 at 7:21 pm

    This entire building needs to be scrapped… The MCS department certainly needs an upgrade, but housing it in this Lego tower does it a massive disservice.

  • Henry Metz on 10.01.2018 at 8:16 pm

    This is horrible. I can just see it become an object of ridicule for years after it’s built. This is just plain ugly and not what we want as the signature piece for the university. What’s so wrong with the stately collegiate gothic towers of Arts and Sciences and Theology? Building this will only cast a shadow over the campus center. I have nothing against building an iconic structure in the center of campus that will be seen from “across the river,” but please let’s not build something that people point and snicker. BU deserves better.

  • Greg Hersh on 10.01.2018 at 10:55 pm

    I like the rendering of the building “on its own”, but it doesn’t quite fit into the surrounding, which is fairly conservative.

  • Elizabeth on 10.01.2018 at 11:41 pm

    As an alumn I can say with certainty this building would ruin the look of the campus. That building design is an affront to the eyes and some of the ugliest architecture I’ve seen from the modern age to date. Stop wasting our tuition and donation money on such frivolous, idiotic designs and build something with class and dignity that will stand the test of time and be a beautiful work of art. Not something that looks like a toddler’s build-a-blocks.

  • Erin on 10.02.2018 at 7:28 am

    That is an extremely ugly building.

  • Tre Neu on 10.02.2018 at 9:04 am

    Hey BU…use the “data” that is plastered across social media about this eye sore…hire a new architect.

  • Gc on 10.02.2018 at 10:25 am

    The tower is too close to CAS
    If this is the design you want one option would be to turn the tower around and move the tower to the right next to the Sargent building . Need more green space between the building and the street as was done with the business school I don’t see any greenary in the front. Need to push the building in off the side walk . Also these “iconic” buildings tend to have long term problems compared to traditional builfings . Thanks to Mr. Hariri (BU grad)
    for his families continual support to Boston U

  • Greg Winterhalter on 10.02.2018 at 11:22 am

    Audacious but interesting. Scale could be a concern.

  • Patrick on 10.02.2018 at 11:41 am

    Please, BU, revisit this design. I applaud the idea of building something bold that will be recognized from across the river and around the city as the university’s new iconic building. But this should not be that building. It will be the target of jokes and I don’t think that’s the sort of icon we want. Some of the most historic buildings on campus (including the recently renovated Castle) will literally be in the shadow of this tower. That doesn’t preclude something modern but please consider a design that will in some way be in harmony with and create connections to the real icons around it.

  • Satisfied Alum on 10.02.2018 at 2:13 pm

    I like it. Sort of “Minecraftian”

  • Yuting Zhang on 10.02.2018 at 3:24 pm

    This news is so exciting! Some sentences are really touching me, such as, “We need to enable the world to intelligently consume data. This is where education comes in”, I can’t think up a better saying to express my agreement with this sentence! I am so proud to be enrolled in BU, and I hope I can contribute to BU some day.

  • Brendan Dunphy on 10.02.2018 at 3:28 pm

    this is so ugly. i’d much rather keep the parking lot. let’s just keep building “state of the art” facilities that look old 5 years after they’re built

  • 02125 Boston on 10.02.2018 at 5:30 pm

    absolutely ugly

  • Geography Maven on 10.02.2018 at 5:36 pm

    I get that we want an iconic building that our friends at MIT and Harvard will notice, but do we really want them to notice and laugh.

  • Stewart Randall on 10.02.2018 at 6:26 pm

    This is really bad architecture. This is the same brutalist mistake that was made when the GSU and Law towers were designed by Sert. This is a telling statement “so that along Comm Ave, passersby can look in and look up and see people working on the collaborative terraces.” I’ve been around BU as a student, staff and alumnus for 40 years. The GSU used to have a center couryard that was empty 9 months of the year and brutally hot during the summer. In 1978-9 it was filled in with the Metcalf Ballroom, a much better use of space. The terraces where people look up so to speak (as the trolley runs them over) are only useful during summer session, the wind off the Charles will make them barren land from September to May. This is a really bad move by the University. While I appreciate the concentration in STEM (and given Dr. Brown’s background, it makes sense he would concentrate on STEM, across the street is COM, still in its ugly car dealership building and Morse auditorium which has needed renovation for years. There are better ways to use resources, a building where a large chunk of the footprint is not wasted nine or ten months out of the year would be a start. Also this building will be visible from downtown. It will rank with City Hall as one of the ugliest buildings in the city. Are we trying to outdo the Gerry Building at MIT? At least that doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. This is not where I would want to see my donation dollars go. Oh, no one mentioned parking. One of the comments above talk about paitients who need to get to SAR for PT services, where are they going to go?

    Before he passed Dr. Silber wrote a architectural critique. If he was still alive he would have lots to say about this folly.

    Please reconsider. Also why do we need to go to Toronto to find a architect in a city full of architects? But that’s another discussion.

  • Class of 2002 on 10.02.2018 at 6:53 pm

    Good God I hope it has a great personality #YouUGLY

  • Johnny on 10.03.2018 at 12:31 am

    I remember John Silber saying he opposed the death penalty except for the architects of Warren Towers. What a shame it would be for this building to loom over the campus like a gigantic brown blob. This would be the biggest architectural mistake in New England since Boston City Hall.

  • BLR on 10.03.2018 at 8:14 am

    This building is incredibly ugly. The comment that it looks like a jenga construction is right on.

    I think it will become a laughing stock, rather than an icon of BU vision.

  • Jen DiTomasso Jacobsen on 10.03.2018 at 9:11 am

    The idea of a data sciences center looking like a stack of books is…remarkable. Physical, paper books are old-fashioned. In order to use the information, the ‘data’ in them in any relevant way (data mining, any kind of statistical analysis), you’d want a digital book, not a stack of printed books. The concept may as well be a library card catalog. For data sciences.

    • Andrew on 10.04.2018 at 9:43 pm

      That is such a good point!

  • Rob on 10.03.2018 at 9:54 am

    What type of shadow is this thing going cast on upper Bay State Road and CAS? It looks like it’s going to dwarf over the existing structures, and not in a good way.

  • Haley on 10.03.2018 at 10:08 am

    This may beat Government Center for ‘most unsightly building in Boston’ …. this is a joke right?

  • LarryO on 10.03.2018 at 1:28 pm

    Some have called this stack of blocks the Jenga Building (JGA???) and others have referenced the Frank Ghery designed building at MIT. Ghery’s buildings are works of sculptural art, but in many cases (like MIT) they have been proven to be highly impractical, have huge amounts of unusable space, and are prone to severe HVAC issues, leaks, etc.

    This proposed building just doesn’t look right, and I agree that it will be considered among the ugliest buildings ever built in Boston, and that is saying a lot! The ‘brownish’ panels on some sides, but not all? Far too many offsets in the building block style. On a positive note, I do like most of the interior design elements and the idea of the openness of the first few floors.

    The new World Trade Center in NYC went through a few iterations before the as-built design was finally chosen. This proposed design should go back for a few revisions.

  • Flooding in Mugar on 10.03.2018 at 3:27 pm

    Lol, please use some of your endowment to fix Mugar Library, where my dissertation carrel leaks every time it rains. Addtionally, multiple floors have leaks so the fix for years has been to cover bookshelves with plastic sheets and put bins on the floor. It’s hard to view this as a top research institution when we work in such poor conditions.

  • Concerned Student saying what all other students are thinking. on 10.03.2018 at 7:06 pm

    I’d like to add to the flood of comments calling for redesign of this ugly building. It does not compliment the rest of the space and it would just ruin the campus. Why can’t this money be allocated to improving old BU buildings instead???

    This parking lot should be turned into a public green space, which BU is severely lacking. Students want green space to improve mental health and reduce depression caused by the constant tuition increases.

  • Highly concerned citizen on 10.03.2018 at 7:08 pm

    Hmmmm I think I’ve seen something like this before…. It’s earily reminiscent to something the 4 year old I nanny for made out of legos the other day. On the other hand it will definitely encourage people who work there to work as efficient as possible so they can get the hell out of there. Seriously though I’ve seen better architectural designing from my dog. And she’s blind

  • Fix Busses + PUT A GYM CLOSER TO EAST... on 10.03.2018 at 7:14 pm

    Everyone always wants to live in west campus because there is more to do there – sports, the gym, and the majority of students live there. But for those of us who don’t want to live in west with jocks and people who love to do the Allston crawl and get blacked out every weekend, it’s a bit of a trek from east campus to FitRec; especially in winter. YES I get it… “just use the BU bus” UHH.. NO IM GOOD THANKS.

    1. the BU mobile app is confusing a lot of the time, giving inaccurate bus times and locations.
    2. why does the app have like 3 different icons at each bus stop?? please someone redesign this app.. 3. Even if I want to use the unreliable but to get all the way down comm ave, it will take me 15 minutes ish (without traffic) to get to the gym, workout for an hour and then have to wait for another unreliable bus to take me back to east another 15 ish minutes. My point is, by the time I go there and back and doddle around walking to and from the bus etc. it’s been two hours of my day which only really has to be an hour if the gym were closer.

    Also, side note. it SUCKS when you’re standing across from marsh waiting to take the bus to the med campus and you think a bus is coming to get you but it turns out to be the Comm ave loop bus AND THEN another bus is 10 minutes behind it that turns out to be the bus going through south campus/wheelock… So then u waste 20 minutes waiting for a bus to get to class because the BU mobile app is confusing as hell with the bus section; All the while you could have just walked half way there before a bus picks you up..

  • Allyson on 10.03.2018 at 8:22 pm

    I literally cannot believe this is a serious article. Why not fix the old and awful facilities you already have instead of taking up a parking lot that is a necessity to the area? Why not renew parts of CAS that have malfunctioning heat/AC? Why not invest money into the whitestones and brownstones that are literally falling apart? Why not do something that your student body actually wants and actually needs. This is ridiculous.

  • elani elizondo on 10.03.2018 at 11:26 pm

    In this case, size does not matter. Try going for something that fits in with the neo-classical architecture Boston has preserved for years and stop trying to place a jenga tower right in the middle of comm ave. Seriously BU, think if your students and the campus you are creating for them.

  • CS Grad on 10.04.2018 at 10:54 am

    For those who think the University should spend the money elsewhere, you should also consider the limited space at the current MCS building for growing student body in CS, and the condition of the two-floor building is among the worst on campus.

  • Jen DiTomasso Jacobsen on 10.04.2018 at 11:02 am

    A unity of design elements in the buildings on campus would give definition to where the Charles River campus starts and ends. BU invested a huge amount of time, money, and hard work to achieve consistent design elements amongst its websites and print materials. Some consistency among design in the campus buildings would at the very least distinguish what is, and is not, a BU space. Otherwise, the campus reminds me of student group design projects, where it was glaringly obvious that none of the students collaborated with each other. Imagine a website where every page has different colors, fonts, and layout.

    Boston has some beautiful English architecture. I was struck by it after having studied abroad in London, and then having returned to BU. Some of the buildings on campus blend the old with the new beautifully, like FitRec and Questrom (if nothing else, think red brick and large windows). But this building looks like an architect’s effort to stand out, for no other reason than to stand out. If it were a standalone building that was not part of a larger institution, then sure. But it’s not.

    Also, at the risk of stereotyping all math, computer science, and statistics people as Sheldon Coopers, I imagine so many inhabitants of this building just itching to reach out with giant hands and thwack the sides of it, to straighten it out.

  • KV on 10.04.2018 at 1:47 pm

    I posted my comments on the 1st day this article came out, but not sure why it never showed up here and also if this one will either. Perhaps the editorial team wanted to filter it out for some reason beyond my comprehension. So I decided to write directly to the President’s office expressing my opinions on why this project should not be carried forward. I drew parallels with Princeton, NYU and USC and stressed BU has more important priorities at hand where to spend the millions on. Hopefully it will get a fair reading and consideration by someone in that office.

  • Alum Joe on 10.06.2018 at 10:20 pm

    Please, Please reconsider this design! It’s so ugly! I think it would be great for BU to build something innovative and contemporary, but this design would be a huge mistake. How about something similar to the other new science building across the street, just taller? And try to incorporate some of the look and feel of the existing buildings. (Some stone and brick.)

    I do like the idea of a raised park area. Otherwise, just no. Please listen to your alumni.

  • Michael J. Salerno on 10.07.2018 at 1:18 am

    Boston University is also a community that includes visiting alumni and guests that partcipate in on-campus events. Will an underground public parking garage be constructed? Attending the university campus by (electric) car is already a difficult task for those without permits.

  • C/o 2018 on 10.08.2018 at 3:26 pm

    Will there be any poll or input form for the community to express their opinion? I think it’s pretty clear that the vast majority is opposed to this design. We deserve to be heard.

  • GC on 10.08.2018 at 3:57 pm

    To the architects
    Can you remove the red siding to see what building looks like. May result in purer look
    Also can you give us picture of the red siding in color of College Arts and sciences so there won’t be a dramatic change as walking down street

  • Gary Vrotsos on 10.11.2018 at 4:44 pm

    Love the bold iconic look of the building and the location where it will be . It’s a gutsy looking building and will draw a lot of attention to BU…

  • Please_tell_me_it's_a_joke on 10.17.2018 at 6:33 am

    This would be horrible. Hope this plan is reconsidered.

Post Your Comment

(never shown)