Founders Hall awarded for design excellence by American Institute of Architects

The Founders Hall grand staircase. Photo by ©Tim Griffith.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has recognized Founders Hall with a 2023 Education Facility Design Award of Merit.

Founders Hall is the privately funded 85,000-square-foot-facility that opened in September 2022 on the University of Washington Foster School of Business campus.

As with the design and construction of PACCAR and Dempsey Halls, the Foster School once again partnered with LMN Architects and Hoffman Construction to bring Founders Hall to life.

The result of this latest collaboration is the first building on the UW campus to be built of mass timber, a composite hardwood that is sourced and manufactured sustainably, and continues to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere indefinitely.

Salmon welcome you into Founders Hall. Photo by ©Tim Griffith.

Mass timber is a one of many features that make Founders Hall the greenest building at the UW, designed to achieve a 76% reduction in cumulative carbon emissions and to use 70% less energy and 53% less water than a comparable facility built with conventional methods and materials.

The AIA notes that Founders Hall “creates a vital intersection of three discrete volumes that host collaboration spaces, program offices, classrooms and gather spaces linked by a five-story steel and wood stair that weaves through the mass timber structure. It’s organization… encourages spontaneous interactions among administrators, staff, students and visitors.”

Native art is displayed in the Founders Hall commons. Photo by ©Tim Griffith.

The AIA’s Committee on Architecture for Education lauded the Founders Hall project for introducing mass timber as a construction method for academic facilities, and for showcasing commissioned works by respected local Native artists. “This project is also shaped by careful consideration of the history and legacy of Indigenous people in the Seattle area,” notes the jury.

All of this adds up to a unique space at the UW, the AIA site adds, “where collaborative learning and community building thrive inside a sustainable building poised to inspire future generations of students.”

Founders Hall is a new hub of activity at the Foster School, day and night. Photo by ©Tim Griffith.

The AIA’s Awards of Excellence recognize the most exemplary architectural practice. Award-worthy designs must meet a host of criteria, including enhancing learning in classrooms; balancing function with aesthetics; establishing a connection with the environment; being respectful of the surrounding community; demonstrating high-level planning in the design process; and integrating sustainability in a holistic fashion.

According to the AIA, Founders Hall accomplished all of the above—in style: “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.”

Take a look inside Founders Hall.