• Doug Most

    Associate Vice President, Executive Editor, Editorial Department Twitter Profile

    Doug Most is a lifelong journalist and author whose career has spanned newspapers and magazines up and down the East Coast, with stops in Washington, D.C., South Carolina, New Jersey, and Boston. He was named Journalist of the Year while at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., for his coverage of a tragic story about two teens charged with killing their newborn. After a stint at Boston Magazine, he worked for more than a decade at the Boston Globe in various roles, including magazine editor and deputy managing editor/special projects. His 2014 nonfiction book, The Race Underground, tells the story of the birth of subways in America and was made into a PBS/American Experience documentary. He has a BA in political communication from George Washington University. Profile

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There are 80 comments on BU Proposes to Build Data Sciences Center, Aiming to Become Leader in Booming Field

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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”?

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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.

        1. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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

  29. 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..

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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

  39. 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…

  40. This building design is atrocious – beyond ugly. It also trashes the natural beauty and open-ness of the Charles River’s riverbank/horizon lines when viewed from buildings across Commonwealth Avenue(a consideration for PR). The easy-peasy cognitive connection between a stack of data (or books) is not worthy of an important building on the BU campus, or for Boston.

  41. The buildings that have been constructed since I started working at BU in the 1980’s (Photonics, StuVi 1+2, Questrom, Metcalf Science Center, LSE, FitRec, Aggannis, and others) fit in well with the existing architecture on Comm Ave. Booth is a bit of an anomaly, but since it’s set back, you don’t notice it till you pass it. But this design is so UNATTRACTIVE, as many have commented. It looks like it might be a poor relation to the ICA, which is much more graceful and refined in its setting on the waterfront.

    The other university buildings designed by KPBM at Penn, Northwestern, Princeton, UBS, UToronto, and Waterloo are so much more attractive; they’re modern but fit in with the traditional buildings on campus. Why let them design an eyesore for BU? If it is meant to house computational sciences, why represent those departments with a stack of books? Why not create a design more akin to today’s sleek devices? If I were a big donor, I’d use my donations dollars to fund others buildings in need of renovation instead of putting them towards a design that will surely be the laughingstock of area universities.

  42. I love the concept of a new building for computer science, mathematics, and statistics focusing on the data sciences! Hugely important. Strategically important in many ways.

  43. The building design is fine, but the massing relative to the site and relative to surrounding buildings seems very flawed. The total footage should be put into a building which is 5 stories or so and with a much larger footprint. The law tower is unattractive and its height exacerbates that fact. This proposed building, analogous to the law tower, adds too much verticality to a neighborhood with most buildings presenting a much lower profile.

  44. Totally agree with the building of the Data Sciences Center, but this is just plain UGLY. This will be right up there with City Hall. Hope there are other alternatives, as it looks out of place, and unattractive. Glad I am not there now, as Id hate to know my money going into this design.

  45. That is an ugly design. Boston is both a historic and innovative city. The lopsided heavy visualness of this building seems to me as an eye sore to the many architectural additions to this quaint and otherwise prestigious city skyline.

  46. Everything about this building is wrong from the color that looks like a rusty grate to the discordant instability of the form. When the positive achievements of this administration have been forgotten, this blight on the city of Boston will remain as their legacy, provoking the contempt and mockery of generations. As Plato once wrote, an inharmonious environment is an impediment to a harmonious mind and detrimental to learning. Someone needs to get their priorities straight. The vanity of architects should not come before what is beneficial to learning on a university campus.

  47. Finally, after some 50+ years, the Law School will not be the ugliest building on campus! What a disgrace. Dr. Silver, once again ahead of his time, warned us in his book Architecture of the Absurd. Too bad none of the BU administration read it before deciding on this Pig in a Poke! Awful.

  48. The concept inside the building is great. The building housing the contents of the concept, however – not so great. This building will certainly stand out on the campus but it should not stand out like a sore thumb. It looks like large heavy boxes stacked unevenly on top of each other that could topple at any moment. True, the building will be sturdy but there is nothing aesthetic about it. It should really be designed to reflect the energy of the purpose of the building.

  49. Looking at the University’s strategic plans for the next decade, I really hope it can get its priorities straight – besides spending a ridiculous amount of money on one fancy building, it should also think about renovating existing buildings, most of which are just not 21st-century appropriate, aesthetically or functionally. Sure the MCS building prolly has the worst conditions amongst all and the Dept could really use a new building, but other critical buildings on campus like COM and Mugar are in very very bad conditions too.

    Please consider every student’s nightmare aka Warren Towers: comprehensive renovation is sorely needed! Add a fitness center and a penthouse lounge! Also, the BU campus is seriously lacking in green space, which is vital for community gathering and students’ mental health. And make all-day parking passes available for off-campus students to purchase!

  50. Ugly as sin. Awesome it’s net zero. But will go down in history along with City Hall and Back Bay Station as blights on the landscape. Looks like it was designed by a 3-year-old in daycare. Atrocious. Architects should lose their licenses!

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