What was once a Burger King will become a state-of-the art building on the Boston University (BU) campus within the next few years. Mayor Martin Walsh, along with Boston University, broke ground on the Boston University Center for Computing & Data Sciences on Dec. 5. The 345,000 square foot structure will be Boston’s largest fossil-free building, and will stand 19 stories tall. Set to open in 2022, the building is also seeking LEED Platinum certification and will include 31 geothermal wells.
“The building we break ground on today is, in every sense, a game changer for Boston University,” said Jean Morrison, university Provost and Chief Academic Officer. Morrison also said that the building will “have a transformative effect on both the look and feel of the Charles River campus and on our capacity to lead in the rapidly growing fields of computing and data science.”
BU President Robert Brown talked about the history of the parking lot at 665 Commonwealth Ave., which is the site to become the Center for Computing & Data Sciences.
“Not long ago, this parking lot was the home for a Burger King,” he said. “When this project was born five years ago and we didn’t want it really known what we were doing, it was secretively called ‘BK1’.”
He said the location “could not be more strategic for the university,” as it is located at the heart of the campus, near the Dahod Family Alumni Center and the Levanthal Center, “where tens of thousands of visitors come to the university every year,” he said. Additionally, the science and engineering complex is locate diagonal across the street.
“Today, BU is a leading private research university, competing and competing well with the finest universities in the country for talented students and faculty,” he said.
Brown also touted that the building will become the largest geothermal powered building in New England. “The Center will stand as a remarkable commitment to our climate action plan and our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2040,” he said.
Mayor Walsh praised Boston University for its contributions to the City of Boston. “They’re a good neighbor; they continue to contribute to the city’s efforts around transportation, public space, and climate,” Walsh said.
Walsh said that in 2014, he issued a challenge to the city’s landlords and universities to create a “world class city” with new designs for buildings that would mesh the new with the old, and since then, the city has seen many new investments and a lot of new construction.
“BU certainly stepped up in a big way,” Walsh said. “It’s certainly a bold landmark; it’s a symbol of creativity and innovation.”
The building will create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs, Walsh added.
“For years to come, this building will stand up as a symbol of Boston and BU’s climate leadership,” he said. “It’s going to help inspire students to think big and act with integrity. Our hope is that it’s going to inspire a whole new wave of excellence in design and sustainability in Boston and beyond.”