LMN Architects Celebrates the Completion of the Michael G. Foster School of Business Founders Hall at the University of Washington


Founders Hall, Foster School of Business
University of Washington


Seattle, Washington – October 31, 2022 – LMN Architects is proud to celebrate the completion of Founders Hall at the University of Washington Foster School of Business. Framing the northeast edge of Denny Yard, the open space at the heart of the original campus plan, the 84,800 sf building creates a new hub for community, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The project is intended to be a complementary, cohesive addition designed to harmonize with the existing academic buildings and embrace its surrounding landscape.

Founders Hall expands the Foster School business education complex with a diversity of student-facing programs to further embed its interactive culture of learning, strategic thinking, and entrepreneurial initiative fabric with the central campus.

Designed with students in mind, the layout of Founders Hall encourages students to cultivate stronger connections with their peers, advisors, and the larger Foster School of Business community. The building design creates an intersection of three volumes hosting student-focused team collaboration spaces, program offices, classrooms, and gathering spaces, all connected by a five-story steel and wood feature stair that weaves through the mass timber structure. The community connector houses the feature wood stair, circulation spaces, prefunction spaces, and two tiered classrooms that can be set for 65 or 135 students. The team bar provides 28 team and interview rooms; four executive conference rooms, a student commons with an outdoor terrace, and a rooftop event forum.

Frank Hodge, Orin & Janet Smith Dean, Foster School of Business, comments: “As a building, Founders Hall has seamlessly woven into the welcoming and inclusive community we have worked hard to create in all of our buildings at the Foster School. It also significantly amplifies our deep commitment to addressing the climate challenges we face today as well as honors the Native land on which the building rests. In many ways, it is livable art.”

The building organization facilitates spontaneous and open interaction between staff, business professionals, and students by positioning program offices, alumni offices, and career services offices adjacent to student spaces on every level. By locating meeting spaces accessible to all for shared use, students and program staff will be able to interact with one another daily.

Kate Westbrook, Principal, LMN Architects, comments: “The new Founders Hall is an architectural and philosophical continuation of the interconnected spaces that LMN Architects has designed for the Foster School of Business over many years. It stands apart with an elevated focus on sustainability goals, social equity and inclusivity, and increased opportunities for community connection.

“With the foundation of our design rooted in a mass timber structure, we leveraged both the inherent beauty and sustainability of wood. The use of mass timber lowers the project’s embodied carbon substantially while we celebrate the Douglas fir to create a warm and inviting atmosphere on the interior. The exterior architectural expression draws from the material palette established by earlier Foster School buildings and reveals moments of the mass timber structure to hint at the experience within. Founders Hall culminates the design of the Foster School campus with a project focused on our team’s collective vision for the future, enhanced by its integration with the historic landscape of the University of Washington campus.”

Founders Hall is the first fully mass timber building on campus and is the first new building to meet the University of Washington Green Building Standards; reducing carbon emissions by over 90%. The building’s design takes advantage of Seattle’s weather by integrating natural and mechanical ventilation to provide a comfortable environment for the building’s users with minimal reliance on conditioned air. As an integrated element in both the interior and exterior expression, the building incorporates a mass timber structure with cross-laminated timber decking, reflecting the Foster School’s connection to the northwest and the local wood products industry and reducing the building’s embodied carbon by almost 60%. The team ensured that many of the already-existing nearby Douglas fir and sequoia trees would not only be preserved but integrated into the architectural expression of the building. The peeled-away brick façade paired with carefully placed glazing exposes the timber inside the building while providing views of the historical Douglas firs, giving the higher floors of the building an immersive experience with the northwest forest character of the site.

The University of Washington has a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship, with initiatives that extend beyond the enhancement of the environment to also include how it manages facilities and resources. Aureus Earth, the world’s leading provider of carbon offsetting incentive programs for the construction industry, announced in September its first transaction that values the long-term biogenic carbon storage in a mass timber building. The transaction was accomplished in partnership with the Foster School of Business, using the newly completed Founders Hall mass timber building as a proof of concept. The building will store more than 1,000 tons of CO2 for decades, keeping carbon out of the atmosphere for the lifetime of the building.

Robert Smith, Principal, LMN Architects, comments: “It has been an amazing experience working with the Foster School of Business over the last two decades through shared research, master planning, and now three phases of new buildings. Founders Hall continues the focus on social performance that defined the success of PACCAR Hall but adds a significant focus on operational and environmental performance with a 92% reduction in operational carbon. This achievement is a testament to the strong shared vision that we developed with the University of Washington, Foster School of Business leadership, our design-build team led by Hoffman Construction, and the amazing collaboration with users, university staff, designers, and trade partners.”

Founders Hall reflects the highly social character of business in the new century and aspires to be a sustainable building that will inspire future generations of business leaders. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place on Tuesday, September 27. The new building is LMN’s most recent project within the Foster School of Business, which began with the initial master plan in 2002 and also includes the PACCAR Hall and Dempsey Hall projects. The project is targeting LEED Gold Certification and it is one of the first buildings at the University of Washington to be delivered through progressive design-build project delivery.

LMN Architects has designed more than 150 projects on 51 campuses in the United States, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle; the Voxman Music Building at the University of Iowa in Iowa City; the Edward J. Minskoff Pavilion at Michigan State University in East Lansing; and the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University.

Learn more about the project here.