A $500 Million Home for Gates's Charity

Melinda Gates and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels at the groundbreaking of the Gates Foundation's new $500 million headquarters in downtown Seattle.
Melinda Gates and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels at the groundbreaking of the Gates Foundation's new $500 million headquarters in downtown Seattle. (By Ted S. Warren -- Associated Press)

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By Donna Gordon Blankinship
Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SEATTLE -- Across the street from the Space Needle and Paul Allen's tribute to Jimi Hendrix and rock music, Allen's old friend Bill Gates is building his headquarters for charitable giving.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation broke ground yesterday on its new $500 million headquarters, which the world's largest charity hopes to occupy in late 2010.

The campus is a crosswalk away from the Seattle Center and the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Allen's collection of rock memorabilia and space-age literature and artifacts. Both are monuments to the wealth garnered by Gates and Allen, the co-founders of Microsoft.

The campus, which covers a city block, will be big enough to house 1,200 employees plus large meetings and events. Gates and his wife also will have an interactive museum, a 15,000-square-foot center telling the story of the foundation's work. In all, the buildings will encompass some 900,000 square feet.

The Gates Foundation is using its $37.3 billion endowment to fight diseases such as AIDS and malaria, start a green revolution in Africa, improve U.S. high schools and provide Internet access at libraries throughout the world.

The all-glass structure -- including glass interior walls and fixtures -- is meant to elicit confidence in the foundation's mission by making the enterprise inside clear to the outside world, said Steve McConnell of NBBJ, the Seattle architecture firm for the project.

Melinda Gates is a director of The Washington Post Co.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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