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BU proposes new 7-story, 150,000-square-foot life sciences, engineering building

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  August 9, 2013 12:58 PM

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(Boston Redevelopment Authority)

A photo of the existing surface parking lot that the Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering Building would replace.

Boston University has proposed a new seven-story, 150,000-square-foot life sciences and engineering building on the eastern part of its Charles River campus.

The Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering Building would replace an existing, half-acre, BU-owned surface parking lot at 610 Commonwealth Ave.

The new facility would "provide additional interdisciplinary research space for faculty and students in neuroscience and systems/synthetic biology,” the university said in plans filed last week with the city. “This site is located adjacent to the university's science and engineering campus, allowing for a full interdisciplinary integration with research activities in other science and engineering programs.”

The proposed facility is one of eight buildings BU expects to construct within the next 10 years as part of its campus-wide master plan.

That plan includes constructing another new science and engineering research building, up to 11 stories tall and as large as 165,000 square feet, that would replace an existing three-story, 36,500 square-foot building on a half-acre site at 30-38 Cummington Mall.

In 2005, the university opened a new 188,500-square-foot life science and engineering building featuring laboratory and research space at 24 Cummington Mall.

BU said it has a need for its latest proposal for yet another science and engineering building.

About a decade ago, BU leaders expressed a “desire to keep pace with the burgeoning bioengineering industry, which was projected to triple in size over the early part of the 21st century,” officials wrote in its recent filing with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. And, “programs in life sciences and engineering have continued to thrive, which has led to the need for additional research and laboratory space.”

The proposal for the Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering Building is considered an amendment to the university’s master plan and must receive further city approval before it can be formally adopted into the master plan.

The BRA has scheduled a public meeting for the amendment to be presented and discussed from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13, in room 101 of the Kenmore Classroom Building at 565 Commonwealth Ave.

The rest of the master plan, which is expected to cost more than $750 million and includes new dormitory, academic and research facilities along with public realm projects and campus improvements, was approved by the city in early 2013 following more than a year of planning and public review.

Most projects within the master plan need even further city review, which is done on an individual basis, before construction can start.

One project in the master plan that has already received full city approval – to renovate the existing 18-story law school building at 765 Commonwealth Ave. and to build a 100,000 square-foot addition there – is under construction.

However, the university has not released a timeline for when before 2023 it plans to build most other projects in the master plan.

BU has said it will likely first build the following projects: a new 523-bed dormitory, Student Village III, which would stand as high as 11 stories atop an existing surface parking lot between 33 Harry Agganis Way and 10 Buick St.; a new academic building, up to 350,000 square feet in size and up to 15 stories high, on a site that is currently a one-acre surface parking lot at 645-665 Commonwealth; and to integrate two brownstones at 130 Bay State Road and add about 60,000 square feet of academic and administrative space.

The university expects to build the following projects in the latter portion of the master plan timeframe: the new science building at 30-38 Cummington Mall; add 50,000 square feet of academic space to the existing 84,000 square-foot communications school building at 640 Commonwealth Ave.; and to modernize the Myles Standish hall and annex dormitories at 610 Beacon St. and 632 Beacon St. that house a combined 760 beds.

The university also plans to work on other public real improvement projects, including creating new pedestrian malls and pocket parks on its campus, at varying points over the next decade.

And, the master plan calls for BU to continue to help invest in a public project to improve Commonwealth Avenue.

Projects from previous master plans that are either under construction or were recently completed, include: a near student services center which opened last fall; a new athletic field that is expected to be completed this month; and a new admissions reception center which is expected to be finished by early 2014.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.


(Boston Redevelopment Authority)

A map showing the projects in BU's 2013-2023 institutional master plan.

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