Founders Hall, Foster School of Business
Architecture firm: LMN Architects
Owner: University of Washington, Foster School of Business
Project site: Brownfield
Building program type(s): Education - college/university (campus-level)
Founders Hall is a defining new addition to the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, setting a new standard on campus for embodied and operational carbon reduction. It’s the first mass timber structure on the Seattle campus, where collaborative learning and community building thrive inside a sustainable building poised to inspire future generations of students.
The team seamlessly integrated Founders Hall into the landscape, strengthening connections to Denny Yard, the university’s historic heart. It accommodates the business school’s rapidly expanding undergraduate program with social spaces that bolster the students’ academic experiences and prompt important networking opportunities with alumni and other industry leaders. As a new social hub, the building is a bustling testament to the university’s commitment to address climate change and social justice.
“It’s fantastic that mass timber is being introduced as a construction method for academic projects. This project is also shaped by careful consideration of the history and legacy of Indigenous people in the Seattle area.” - Jury comment
Joining two additional buildings that serve the business school, Founders Hall creates a vital intersection of three discrete volumes that host collaboration spaces, program offices, classrooms, and gathering spaces linked by a five-story steel and wood stair that weaves through the mass timber structure. Its organization, which places administrative offices next to student spaces on every level, encourages spontaneous interactions among administrators, staff, students, and visitors.
In addition to being the first mass timber structure on campus, Founders Hall is also the first to embrace the university’s elevated green building standards—it reduces carbon emissions by more than 90% and embodied carbon by nearly 60%. Through its design, the building capitalizes on the region’s temperate climate to integrate natural and mechanical ventilation to provide a comfortable environment for occupants with minimal need for conditioned air. The use of cross-laminated timber decking reflects the university’s deep connection to the Northwest’s enduring wood products industry.
Throughout the process, the team ensured that numerous existing Douglas fir and sequoia trees on the site were not only preserved but were a part of the building’s architectural expression. Its facade is paired with sensitively placed glazing to reveal the timber inside and provide views of the surrounding trees. On higher floors, students, faculty, and staff are immersed in the site’s forest character.
In connecting to the history of the university and the forest industry, the building provides meaningful insight into Washington’s culture and heritage, shaping a holistic experience for the campus community. Founders Hall is not merely a place for learning, but a larger symbol of the school’s aspirations to leave a lasting, positive impact on students and the world.