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Boston University building that will look like a stack of books is officially under construction

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The 19-story Commonwealth Avenue project will replace a surface parking lot and be especially environmentally sustainable

A 19-story building that looks like a stack of books. Renderings via KPMB

Boston University officially broke ground December 5 on one of the more interesting developments architecture-wise in Boston in recent memory.

Mayor Marty Walsh and BU President Robert Brown were the guests of honor at the groundbreaking for the school’s future Center for Computing and Data Sciences, which will house BU’s mathematics, computer science, and statistics departments under one—very environmentally sustainable—roof at 645-665 Commonwealth Avenue in Kenmore Square.

The university proposed the 350,000-square-foot, 19-story building in the fall of 2018, and the Boston Planning and Development Agency signed off on it this past July. It will replace a surface parking lot (sound familiar?).

The project’s most striking aspect is that architecture, which Toronto-based KPMB Architects came up with. The building is designed to look like a stack of books. “They asked us for something—they used the word ‘iconic,’” Marianne McKenna, a KPMB founding partner, said in October 2018.

Rendering of a blocky building as it meets a busy sidewalk.

Indeed. The building will also be the tallest on BU’s campus, with a four-story podium above a basement and then 13 floors on top of that, with a top floor for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing apparatuses.

What’s more, the building will be environmentally sustainable, according to BU—in fact, it’s supposed to be the most sustainable building in all of Boston. To that end, it will be built 5 feet above the city’s suggested level for sea rise, and will include features such as geothermal wells, shading systems, and triple-glazed windows. It is also being designed and built to not use fossil fuels at all.

BU expects to open the center in 2022. Stay tuned.