LMN Architects Celebrates the Design and Topping Out of the Foster School of Business Founders Hall at the University of Washington


Founders Hall, Foster School of Business
University of Washington


Seattle, Washington – September 21, 2021 – LMN Architects is proud to celebrate the “topping out” of the mass timber structure for Founders Hall at the UW Foster School of Business. Framing the northeast edge of historic Denny Yard, the open space at the heart of the original campus plan, the new 85,000 sf building is expected to be completed in the Summer of 2022.

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 of the central campus. The building is organized in two parts to optimize program functionality of workplace, learning and collaboration activities.

Active-learning, collaboration and event spaces are positioned at the south edge of the site to engage the distinctive qualities of the Denny Yard landscape, as well as link to the intensively used pedestrian pathways that traverse the precinct. Landscaped terraces and rain gardens reinforce the natural slope and evergreen plantings of the treasured open space. By contrast, the north building façade along Stevens Way is clad in masonry in response to solidity of campus buildings that front the ring road.

An open circulation space serves as a central connector with a feature stair that provides shared access to tiered classrooms, student commons, special event venue and outdoor terrace. The tiered classrooms are designed to serve multiple group sizes, from 65 to 135 students, with active-learning functionality. The collaboration zone is further activated by twenty-eight team rooms, four conference rooms, a student commons, and an event forum with an adjacent roof terrace.

Frank Hodge, Orin & Janet Smith Dean, Foster School of Business, comments: “LMN Architects has been a true partner in designing Founders Hall. Decisions were made in a collaborative manner with ideas openly shared and outcomes respected by both parties. Our decision to switch from a concrete and steel structure to a mass timber structure was a monumental shift in design. LMN excelled at incorporating all of our ideas to celebrate the use of wood in the project, and created a more open, inviting, beautiful, and highly functional design.”

Founders Hall reflects the highly interactive nature of business in the new century and is designed for sustainable performance and social connection to inspire future generations of business leaders. The project is a model for sustainable design at the University of Washington and is embracing UW’s Green Building Standards to reduce emissions from embodied carbon by 83%.

Mark Reddington, Partner, LMN Architects, comments: “This project completes a complex of interconnected buildings and spaces which we have been designing for the Foster School over many years. It serves multiple program functions with an inclusive and equitable social environment, integrated into the historic landscape of the UW campus.”

The building features a system of collaboration spaces designed to encourage teamwork and foster spontaneous interaction amongst students, program staff, and the broader business community. The classrooms, conference facilities, and recruiting spaces provide expanded opportunities for community and corporate engagement through hosting events and inviting outside speakers, alumni, and corporate recruiters.

Robert Vincent, Project Manager, Hoffman Construction Company, comments: “The guiding principle for our design-build team has been to identify the best alternatives and solutions for the project. We embraced the client’s desire for a mass timber structure, and although we experienced some supply chain disruption due to the pandemic, we are on track to become a model of what is possible with new technologies and construction techniques. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with everyone at the University of Washington, LMN Architects, the team of consultants, and all the trade partners involved in the success of the project.”

Robert Smith, Principal, LMN Architects, comments: “This project demonstrates how an integrated client and design-build team can translate a vision of sustainability into a building that is equally successful at fostering social performance of the users as well as the operational performance of the building. The 83% reduction in operational carbon is a result of careful balancing between envelope performance, the mechanical system design, and the users’ commitment to leverage operable windows and ceiling fans in lieu of energy-intensive air conditioning.”

The 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. Founders Hall is one of the first projects at the University of Washington to be delivered through progressive design-build project delivery.

LMN Architects has designed more than 140 projects on 47 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; 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.