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Boston University’s Center for Computing & Data Sciences

A People-Centered Faculty

KPMB Architects

Boston University’s Center for Computing & Data Sciences
By Caterina Testa -
Artemide has participated in the project

In 2013, Boston University called for tenders for a new building to house its emerging data sciences arm. Detailed from the outset as an interdisciplinary teaching and learning hub, the client’s ambitious requirement was for a people-focused building hosting an eminently scientific discipline.

Placed at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Granby Street in the heart of Boston University’s linear campus in the Back Bay neighborhood, the building proposed by KPMB is just that: a container for human relationships and activities that not only encourages inter-personal contacts and socialization but also connects to its wider urban context. This is achieved with a design that both anchors the building to its street and surrounding context but whose upper staggered cantilevered volumes reach out across the city towards Charles River. Making this possible is the building’s location at the very heart of Boston University’s quarter, not far from the oldest buildings, offering expansive views over the river and city.

The podium, first four stories and set-back fifth floor all align with Commonwealth Avenue and Granby Street, their glazed façades creating a connection with the urban sphere. Conceived as a porticoed extension of Commonwealth Avenue, this lower section welcomes students and visitors into the university faculty. Also accessible to the public, the ground floor houses a café and workstations available to anyone on campus – another clear signal that for Boston University, “higher education should be accessible to all”.

The upper section of staggered cantilevered upper floors replicates the scale and size of the surrounding historic blocks. Floor-to-ceiling windows illuminate the interior abundantly, offering students immersed in the digital realm views of the city and nature – a constant reminder to stay linked to and inspired by the real, natural world, and that...

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