The University of Washington has long been a lodestar for world-class, computer science exploration, a wellspring of intellectual property, a springboard for innovative startups, and home to an all-star faculty. All that has been missing is the physical space to accommodate more bright minds, increasing the overall capacity of the university to groom the next generation of computer science technologists in size and scope.
Now, The Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering has flung open its doors. A monument to all tech leaders in Seattle, but especially the pairing of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the new center is the companion to the “Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. ” The university has fulfilled a legacy that began with the two leaders friendship at Seattle’s Lakeside School and the creation of Microsoft.
Paul Allen’s gift of $40 million combined with an additional $10 million from Microsoft in Allen’s honor created the original $50 million
The new center was named in honor of Bill and Melinda Gates after Microsoft and a group of their longtime friends announced an additional $30 million donation in their honor. The Gateses also made their own $15 million contribution via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Amazon, Google, Zillow, and Madrona Venture Group also contributed to the construction costs, in addition to funds from the university and state. Recognizing these benefactors, students will encounter the “Amazon Auditorium,” “Zillow Commons,” and the “Google Artificial Intelligence Laboratory” in the center. Classrooms bear the names of local teach leaders.
The Gates Center was designed by Seattle’s LMN Architects, designers of the Allen Center, PACCAR Hall, McCaw Hall, Benaroya Hall, and other extraordinary buildings. Among the features and amenities are a tiered, 250-person auditorium; large classrooms, educational labs, and capstone project rooms, as well as a sophisticated maker space. A 20-foot interactive wall with touch-screen tiles highlights the main floor.
Also making the Gates Center their new home address are The Center for Neurotechnology; the Center for Game Science; the UW Reality Lab; and the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology.