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February 6, 2003

Computer Science center nears completion

The new home of computer science at the UW has entered its final phase.

Last week, workers put the finishing touches on the glass roof of the atrium in the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, located adjacent to the new Electrical Engineering Building along Stevens Way.

The work makes the building a fully enclosed structure and marks the start of the last step in constructing a facility that will give the UW’s nationally ranked Department of Computer Science & Engineering the competitive edge to stay at the front of the fast-paced world of information technology.

All that remains is “finish work,” leading up to a planned opening in time for autumn quarter classes, said Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science.

The project provides a vivid example of public support for the UW, Lazowska said.

“Because of CSE’s close ties with our alumni and with the region’s technology and venture capital communities, our project has attracted nearly $40 million in private funds thus far,” supplementing $30 million in state and UW funds. “In extraordinarily difficult economic times, our friends and alumni have really come through,” he said. “They see the importance of the ideas and people that flow from our program, and their gifts have made this project possible.”

Highlights include a $14 million gift from investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, and major gifts from Allen’s boyhood friend and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Microsoft Corp. itself, and more than 100 other individuals and organizations.

The new building will triple Computer Science & Engineering’s laboratory space. The result, according to Lazowska, will be greater success in recruiting top students and faculty, and education and research programs that better reflect the experimental and interdisciplinary nature of the cutting edge of the field.

“Robotics, bioinformatics, pervasive computing, wireless networking, advanced computer graphics and computer vision, all will be enhanced by our new state-of-the-art laboratory space,” he said.

To date, total public and private support for the building itself is within $2 million of the $72 million total required. But the fund-raising drive needs to continue beyond that, officials say, because a viable, vibrant program includes more than bricks and mortar.

“The Computer Science & Engineering campaign also includes $3 million in technology for the building and $20 million in endowments for scholarships, fellowships and professorships to attract top students and faculty,” Lazowska said. “These components are essential for our program to hold its place among the nation’s best and to continue to energize the regional economy. We’re confident that our friends and alumni will help us finish the campaign.”

The CSE fund-raising campaign is led by Tom Alberg (Madrona Venture Group) and Jeremy Jaech (UW CSE alumnus and co-founder of Aldus and Visio). The project’s general contractor is Mortenson and the design team is led by LMN Architects.