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Gates Foundation’s new campus “arms” open to welcome neighborhood and community

June 6th, 2011 by Jesus Chavez

The Gates Foundation‘s new Lower Queen Anne campus opened to the public on Saturday, welcoming the community to the headquarters of one of the world’s largest charitable organizations.

Visitors formed a long, slow-moving line outside the entrance to go on self-guided tours held between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The tour was restricted to Levels one and two of the North Building, and included walks through the Atrium, Share Your Wish dining area, conference center, the outdoor park and the Grantee Fair. Organizations represented in the fair were: Mercy Corps; Landesa; PATH; Washington Global Health Alliance; State Board for Community and Technical Colleges; Seattle BioMed; College Success Foundation; Building Changes; Thrive by Five; and United Way of King County.

The $500 million, 12-acre site across from the Seattle Center was designed to resemble arms reaching out to “the world’s most vulnerable people.” The organization has spent more than $24.8 billion on different causes throughout the world, with most of that spent on global health initiatives, according to the Gates Foundation Website.

A private party celebrating the opening of the three-year construction project was held on the evening of June 2, with Bill and Melinda Gates in attendance.

The foundation’s staff was spread out in five leased buildings throughout the South Lake Union area, but they’ve been moving into the new campus since early May. About 1,200 people are currently working at the center.

The visitor center is still under construction and is slated to open at the end of 2011. According to the website, it will seek to highlight the work of foundation grantees; tell compelling stories through interactive exhibits; and provide resources that help people connect to causes they care about.

A third building to the east of the other two is part of the planned campus, as seen at the top of the drawing above, but its construction date is currently unknown and will be determined based on the organizations growth and need.

The campus, seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, includes many sustainable features. From the website:

Notable Sustainable Features

  • Green roofs — more than half an acre
  • Water conservation — up to 1.2 million gallons of rainwater will be recycled annually
  • The use of local and recycled materials
  • Reduced energy consumption — 25 percent lower than code requirements
  • Ample open space throughout the campus and extensive use of natural lighting

For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions About Our New Campus and the campus overview with a three-minute video.

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