BU’s ‘Jenga Building’ gathers over the Charles River


Some see a stack of books, about to fall into the Charles. Others see an almost completed Jenga game.

But for Boston University, the zigzag tower that rises across its campus along Commonwealth Avenue will officially be known as the Center for Computing & Data Sciences. And when it opens in January 2023, the building built by Suffolk Construction will be one of the greenest towers in the city. At about 350,000 square feet, a BU spokesperson said, the $305 million data center will be Boston’s largest carbon-neutral building.

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

The unusual design can be credited to KPMB Architects, a Toronto-based firm chosen to shape a building that would “make a statement” and “mark the dynamic change of the University”, as President Robert Brown told BU Today in 2018. The 19 storey building will primarily consist of classrooms, computer labs, meeting spaces, and offices, although the top two levels will be for mechanical systems.

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

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

Jon Chesto can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

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