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Architecture & Engineering

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January 27, 2014

National finalist: Gold award
Special projects

Photo by Timothy Hursley [enlarge]
The Gates Foundation headquarters involved some of the most complex site-selection, right-of-way and land-use negotiations in Seattle’s history, according to the project team.


Project: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s new 12-acre headquarters campus has transformed how the foundation works and improved the local community. Underneath is an infrastructure design that created a foundation of collaboration for this project.

GeoEngineers and KPFF’s eight-year relationship with the Gates Foundation began with campus site selection and continued through permitting, structural and civil engineering, environmental design and remediation, geotechnical design and construction observation. The team’s work began well before the initial phase of the campus broke ground in 2006 and continued through two construction phases.

The campus is located in the heart of Seattle, developed on industrial land with such a damaged legacy that many believed the site would never be redeveloped.

Designers faced century-old infrastructure that had to be rebuilt or rerouted, including sewer systems and electrical transmission and distribution lines. A massive temporary shoring system extended 50 feet below grade, utilizing more than 600 tiebacks. The foundation design was tailored to the site’s variable soil conditions.

The project involved some of the most complex site-selection, right-of-way and land-use negotiations in the city’s history. The site was one of the largest single parcels developed in Seattle.

The Gates Foundation had ambitious sustainability goals, calling for thermal energy storage and unique stormwater-management methods that needed to be engineered into what became the world’s largest nonprofit LEED NC platinum building. The campus revitalized a parcel of land that sustained 100 years of heavy industrial use and damage, improving the community and furthering the foundation’s mission.

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