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June 25, 2018

Gates Foundation will start third campus building in 2019

Journal Staff Reporter

Rendering by NBBJ [enlarge]
The third building, shown in the foreground with Mercer Street to the right, will house about 800 people in 385,000 square feet.

With the viaduct replacement tunnel expected to open in October, that clears the way for a fall 2019 start on the long-planned third building on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus.

The foundation announced the news last week. Completion is expected in the spring of 2023.

The first two boomerang-shaped, six-story buildings opened in 2011, with 639,900 square feet of offices. (They total about 900,000 gross square feet.)

In a statement, the foundation's Aaron Moses said, “We are thrilled to work with the talented group of outstanding, Seattle-based partners, such as NBBJ and Sellen Construction, to realize this stage of the original design and vision.”

NBBJ and Sellen were also on the team for the first two LEED platinum buildings. That original team also included KPFF, civil and structural engineer; Seneca Group, development manager; and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, landscape architect.

The cost for the new building wasn't given, but Moses said that Bill and Melinda Gates would pay for it, separate from the foundation budget.

The first phase cost about $500 million, including land acquired from the city in 2005 for $50 million. Construction began in 2008.

The foundation currently has about 1,200 employees.

The third building will have about 385,000 square feet of offices, and accommodate about 800 people. The project will also add flexible meeting and community spaces, and underground parking for 200 vehicles in a new garage that will link to the existing garage, which has about 412 stalls.

Rendering by ARC Architects [enlarge]
This image is looking south at the Gates Foundation campus, with the new north portal and street grid.

The plan was always to have over 1 million square feet of offices in three buildings on the campus. During the initial planning, building three was set for completion by 2021. The estimated start shifted to a window between 2014 and 2017, owing to uncertainty about the Mercer Street rebuild, viaduct replacement tunnel and restoration of the street grid at the north portal.

The tunnel is now essentially done, with only a three-week period in October needed to connect the north and south portals to state Route 99. Also done is the new Sixth Avenue North, on the Gates Foundation's east boundary. (Before, Broad Street and the dead-end of old Sixth cut through that area.)

The third Gates Foundation building will be on the northeast corner of the campus, where the new Sixth meets Mercer Street.

One more outside job will slightly impact the Gates Foundation campus: Kiewit's lowering and rebuilding of Aurora Avenue North, which is part of its $94 million viaduct demolition contract. That work will include restoring the street grid so that Harrison Street — on the foundation's south boundary — and Thomas and John Streets connect between Seattle Center and South Lake Union.

WSDOT expects the viaduct to be demolished by the fall of 2019.

Kiewit hasn't set a schedule for the north street grid restoration, but WSDOT has estimated it will last through 2020.