Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters

  • New permanent home for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s growing philanthropic activities.
  • Incorporated desire to create a superlative workplace for its staff, while maintaining a respect for the greater environment.
  • Cutting-edge sustainability solutions devised to help conserve energy and reduce the campus’s ecological footprint.

Opening in July 2011, the new 900,000ft2 LEED® Platinum for New Construction Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reflects its commitment to philanthropy and its roots in the Pacific Northwest. The Foundation and design team's goal since the beginning of design was to make sure that sustainability was incorporated into all aspects of the campus. In October 2005, Arup's Seattle office joined the NBBJ-led design team to help them achieve these goals.

The campus spans 12 acres in downtown Seattle and replaces an asphalt parking lot with a facility that returns more than 40% of the site back to green space through two acres of living roofs and native plantings. At 900,000ft2, the project demonstrates how large-scale sustainable architecture and engineering can be delivered at the highest level, and becomes the largest, non-profit LEED-NC Platinum building in the world.

As part of an integrated and collaborative team including NBBJ, Sellen, Seneca Group, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and others, Arup’s contributions to the project included structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, as well as façades, acoustics, information-communications, materials, and audio-visual consulting.

“This is a fantastic achievement for the project and the team that delivered this outcome. Perhaps most satisfying is that this sustainability achievement was the result of an integrated and engaged design process, not a race to acquire points. The design choices that the team selected have resulted in a high performance building. For example, the mechanical systems were selected for their return on investment, operations, and maintenance considerations, future flexibility, and their ability to improve the indoor environmental quality for the staff.”

- Cormac Deavy, Principal at Arup, project director and design leader for the engineering team

The underlying currents of the foundation’s sustainability goals were the creation of a superlative workplace for its staff and a respect of the greater environment. A one-million-gallon rainwater storage tank underneath the campus is responsible for the majority of the water conservation. The two acres of living roofs absorb a significant amount of the rainwater runoff and the remaining roof and hardscape runoff is collected in the rainwater storage tank, cleaned of pollutants and filtered back into the campus for reflecting pools, irrigation, and toilets. 

“The project started seven years ago with the initial goal of supporting the City of Seattle’s LEED Silver civic mandate. The goal was never LEED Platinum; it was simply to design the right building for the foundation staff and surrounding community. We had a mantra of ‘do the right thing’ and that’s what drove the various green building decisions. It just so happened that the best solutions were also the greenest.”

- Margaret Montgomery, principal and lead sustainable designer at NBBJ, lead architecture firm on the project

The project received a National Certificate of Recognition in the American Institute of Steel Construction's 2012 IDEAS2 awards, which honour innovation in structural steel design.

More information on this project can be found in The Arup Journal, Issue 2 2013 (PDF, 12.5MB).


  • Exterior of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at dusk. Credit Timothy Hursley.Open gallery

    The new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters is a LEED Platinum campus.

  • Interior of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with Space Needle in the background. Credit Timothy Hursley.Open gallery

    Arup devised a number of cutting-edge sustainable solutions to help conserve energy and reduce the ecological footprint of the campus.

  • Skyview of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Credit Timothy Hursley.Open gallery

    The new facility reflects the Gates Foundation's commitment to philanthropy and its roots in the Pacific Northwest.