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Sept. 9: Bill Gates To Speak at Sept. 22 Dedication of Carnegie Mellon's Gates and Hillman Centers


Byron Spice          

Ken Walters

Bill Gates To Speak at Sept. 22 Dedication of
Carnegie Mellon's Gates and Hillman Centers

gatesPITTSBURGH—Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and chairman of Microsoft Corp., will present the keynote address at dedication ceremonies for the Gates Center for Computer Science and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies on Sept. 22 at Carnegie Mellon University.
The newly constructed Gates and Hillman centers contain classrooms, research space and offices for the School of Computer Science (SCS). The buildings, designed by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects of Atlanta, Ga., and landscaped by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Cambridge, Mass., feature long sight lines and numerous informal gathering places that encourage impromptu meetings among students, faculty, staff and visitors. The design supports a culture of collaboration that is a distinctive trait of the school and has helped to make Carnegie Mellon one of the world's leading centers for computer science education and research for more than 50 years.
In addition, the buildings serve as crossroads for the entire university community, with five main entrances and two major pedestrian bridges providing new connections to key parts of the 140-acre campus. The buildings, which include 217,000 square-feet of interior space, were built to be energy efficient and environmentally sensitive. When all of the landscaping is in place, the project will more than double the amount of green space that previously existed on the 5.6-acre site.
Pittsburgh philanthropists Henry and Elsie Hillman will participate in the daylong celebration of the Gates and Hillman centers. A $20 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a $10 million gift from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation were instrumental in making the buildings a reality.
"The generosity of the Gates and Hillman foundations and our many other donors will have a lasting impact on our university," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "These buildings already have transformed our campus, making it more cohesive, more functional and more beautiful. They have been designed from the ground up to meet the needs of our computer science students and faculty, whose work continues to transform science, society and the arts."
The Sept. 22 celebration will culminate with a 3 p.m. address by Gates and a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony before 1,200 invited students, faculty and university friends in the University Center's Wiegand Gymnasium. Afterward, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., the public is invited to visit the buildings and see exhibits and demonstrations of research projects by SCS faculty and students.
Earlier in the day, private ceremonies will recognize donors of named classrooms and other facilities in the new buildings. Former faculty member Rick Rashid, now senior vice president for research at Microsoft, will inaugurate the 246-seat Rashid Auditorium made possible by his personal gift to the university and by individuals' donations of named seats.
"The School of Computer Science now occupies what I consider to be the most amazing academic buildings in the world," said SCS Dean Randal E. Bryant. "We appreciate the generosity of our donors and the huge commitment made by this university to construct the Gates and Hillman centers. In the spirit of Carnegie Mellon's tradition of collaboration between schools and across disciplines, we are pleased that our buildings will serve the entire campus community."
Each floor of the nine-story Gates Center and four-story Hillman Center is uniquely shaped to conform with the site's demanding geology, steep terrain and built environment and to optimize office views. All 310 offices have windows, most of which can be opened. Heating and cooling are controlled by individual office thermostats linked with motion sensors to detect when offices are occupied. A four-story, glass-walled impluvium, open at the roofline, draws light into the interior of the Gates Center. The buildings include seven atria and almost 21,000 square feet of interior glass.
Five main entrances on floors 3 through 5 are linked by a spiral ramp called the Helix that forms the heart of the Gates Center; two of the buildings' 10 classrooms are located at the center of the Helix and are accessed from the ramp. Bridges also connect all levels of the Hillman Center with the Gates Center.
A footbridge from the fifth floor of the Gates Center spans a hollow and connects with the Purnell Center for the Arts, providing a direct connection with the center of campus. The footbridge will be dedicated later this fall in honor of the late Randy Pausch, a famed computer science professor who championed collaborations between computer science and the arts. A covered bridge connects the fourth floor of the Gates Center with the fourth floor of Newell-Simon Hall, which in turn provides bridge connections to Wean Hall.
Three SCS units — the Computer Science Department, the Machine Learning Department and the Language Technologies Institute — occupy the Gates and Hillman centers. Three other units — the Robotics Institute, the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and the Institute for Software Research — are in Newell-Simon and Wean halls. The Hillman Center now houses the Lane Center for Computational Biology. The Gates Center has a Planetary Robotics Center that features a two-story, high-bay workspace, made possible by a $4 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The buildings have five green roofs, use rotary heat exchangers called enthalpy wheels to limit energy loss in the ventilation system, and include a system for collecting rainwater and snowmelt — "gray water" — for use in flushing toilets. They are designed to achieve at least a silver certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for sustainable buildings established by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Guy Blelloch, professor of computer science, led an SCS committee that set the short-term and long-term goals for the new buildings and provided input throughout their design and construction. Ralph Horgan, associate vice provost for campus design and facility development, oversaw the project. Jim Skees, SCS director of building facilities, coordinated the August move-in of SCS faculty and staff. PJ Dick is the general contractor.


Pictured above is Bill Gates with Gates Millennium Scholars during his visit to Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus, Feb. 21, 2008.