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Center for Computing and Data Sciences holds dedication ceremony

Boston University Center for Computing and Data Sciences held its dedication ceremony Thursday afternoon, with guests from the BU community, City of Boston and construction partners.

Data science building
The ribbon cutting ceremony that commemorated the opening of the Boston University Center for Computing and Data Sciences on Thursday. CLARE ONG/DFP STAFF

The ceremony started with Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer, giving a welcome speech.

“Boston University has had a remarkable roster of talent across the fields of Computing and Data Science, but never a chance like the one we celebrate today,” Morrison said in her speech. “The Center for Computing and Data Sciences will be at its core what it’s always been about, harnessing the strength of this university, its great faculty, to produce new research, innovation and ideas across dozens of fields and in turn, impacting the lives of populations around the world.”

Mayor Michelle Wu attended the ceremony with her city council colleagues and commented on the effect she hopes the new building will have.

“I hope this building is also an example of how each one of us, each institution, each community, each individual, in some way can have an impact in what feels often like a pretty big and daunting set of challenges ahead of us,” Wu said in her speech.

President Robert Brown said the development of the building began over a decade ago. He said he believes it will become an integral part of campus after the final completion.

“This building will be a centerpiece of the Charles River campus,” Brown said in an interview at the event. “It’s really a stake in the ground for the University in our climate action plan of how we think, what we need to do to play our role in the climate mitigation plan.”

Three years ago, University Trustees, along with Brown and former Mayor Martin Walsh, ceremonially broke ground for CCDS on Dec. 5, 2019. The construction for CCDS began in Spring 2020, aiming to open in late 2022.

Dennis Carlberg, the associate vice president for BU sustainability, was involved with developing the climate action plan for the building’s creation and said he hopes BU and the larger City of Boston take inspiration from CCDS.

“(CCDS is) a fossil fuel free building, so there’s no gasoline connected to this building and it’s geothermal, the ground source heat pumps that were able to heat and cool the building,” Carlberg said. “My biggest hope is that this building is used as an example of what we can do … to curb climate change.”

Wu also described the center as a “clean, healthy and inspiring space for many talented students and faculty members” and spoke about the environmental impact the building will have.

“If you break down the numbers in Boston, more than 70% of our emissions come from buildings,” Wu said. “So to have one of our very large buildings very plainly saying not only can we make it work, not only is the technology there, but we are going to prove it, and live it and be able to have a place where you can feel it and experience it, that is so powerful.” 

KPMB Architects was chosen to administer this project after winning in a competition and has been responsible for CCDS’s design since the beginning.  

“We really thought of this building as (part of) a vertical campus, a vertical neighborhood,” said Paulo Rocha, a KPMB partner. “That’s where you start to see the movement of the building and the shifting of the boxes, kind of came through those stacking of neighborhoods.” 

Rocha said he is interested in seeing the reaction of the BU community to their work after the grand opening.

“I want to come back in March, when students are actually here,” he said. “(Students) are going to be the ones that are going to tell us if it’s working, and hopefully it is, hopefully we’ll see people on this collaboration.”

Azer Bestavros, the inaugural associate provost for CDS, discussed another unique element that makes it distinct from other buildings on campus. 

“This is a building that has no walls, (and) the whole idea for this building is to bring students in,” he said. “I really like that because when you look at BU’s buildings, there is no building like this, even the GSU.”

Bestavros said he “couldn’t be happier” about its completion as he was one of those who started initial conversations with architects.

“The words iconic, remarkable, these words people are using, I don’t think it does justice to this building,” Bestavros said. “This building is amazing.”

The new building has catalyzed conversation amongst BU students. Neeza Singh, a sophomore in CDS, expressed her excitement after seeing the construction process.

“When I first came to BU as a freshman it was barely a building, all you could see was sticks holding it up so I’m surprised that they got it done so fast,” Singh said. “Now that I see it completed with the glass windows and every floor has a different design from what I’ve seen, I really like it.”

Amidst BU’s primarily Gothic architecture, CCDS has caused many students to hope the new style spreads through campus. 

“I hope we can get more of the CDS building vibe (to campus) because I really like how it’s going. I just think it is a little odd how it looks in comparison to all of the other BU buildings,” Singh said. “But by itself I really like it.”

CCDS’s grand opening will take place on Jan. 15. 


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