Welcome to Founders Hall

The Foster School’s new privately funded facility is a model of sustainable construction, collaborative learning and community building

The first thing to catch your eye might be the river of copper-colored salmon swimming “upstream” from floor to floor in metaphoric transformation. Or maybe the soothing cascade of the refurbished Fountain of Reflection. Or the warm tones of structural wood visible at every facet. Or the brilliance of natural light that floods through vast windows and permeates the premises. Or the commingling of voices as they transit the grand central staircase, which runs like an essential artery up and down the heart of the building.

Founders Hall, the Foster School’s new privately funded 85,000-square-foot facility, is like no other on the UW campus.

While bearing a family resemblance to neighboring PACCAR and Dempsey Halls, Founders presents a unique marriage of design and purpose—a most successful merger of natural and built environments on a campus renowned for its architectural diversity and verdant landscape.

Founders Hall is a model of sustainable design and construction. A cathedral of collaboration. An incubator of innovation, an accelerator of ideas, a convergence of team projects, case solutions and business plans. It is a forum, a gathering spot, a hangout. A place to learn, express, engage, brainstorm, formulate, ideate, implement, celebrate. A place to honor the past and create the future.

Intentionally built upon bedrock principles of sustainability, artistry, collaboration and community, Founders Hall embodies the fundamental notion that we, in the Foster community, are better together.

Here is a brief look inside this multifaceted, multipurpose masterpiece of form, function and feel.


The greenest building at the UW, Founders Hall has been 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.

This begins with the structural mass timber of which Founders Hall is constructed. The beautiful composite hardwood is sourced from sustainably managed forests, its manufacturing leaves a comparably minimal carbon footprint, and it continues to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere indefinitely.

This carbon capture has been calculated at 1,000 tons by Foster’s cleantech partner Aureus Earth, which demonstrates how to reduce the “green premium” of building with mass timber by selling credits on the developing carbon market.

Other eco-elements include ample daylighting via massive windows, motion-activated LED lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures, drought-resistant landscaping and a natural cooling system of operable windows and ceiling fans that inhales and circulates evening air.


The artistry of Founders Hall only begins with its ubiquitous exposed hardwood and ample aesthetic flourishes. Original art installations are exhibited throughout the building and grounds.

Two commissioned works by prominent local Native artists honor the heritage of the land on which the Foster School stands. “Life of the Salmon,” by Tulalip-Tlingit artist James Madison, traces the epic upstream run of the sacred fish in the form of polished bronze casts embedded in concrete floor.

“Salish Journey Through Water,” a vibrant suite of paintings by Shaun Peterson (also known as Qwalsius) of the Puyallup Nation, depicts important symbols of the Coast Salish peoples’ identity that are connected by the motif of water.

And the historic “Fountain of Reflection,” forged by the world-renowned Northwest artist George Tsutakawa, has been lovingly restored and resettled in the plaza outside Founders Hall, where it offers a calming respite for passersby along one of the busiest corridors on campus.


Intentionally designed to foster collaboration among students, faculty and staff, Founders Hall features 28 team and interview rooms, and four executive conference rooms, each equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Two 135-seat tiered classrooms facilitate in-class breakout sessions with turn-to-team functionality.

The “Center for Centers” is Foster’s new headquarters for experiential learning, and home to the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, Global Business Center, Consulting and Business Development Center, Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, Product Management Center and Creative Destruction Lab. The Innovation Suite serves as a dedicated idea incubator. The Jack and Ann Rhodes Professional Sales Program serves students from around the UW.

Founders Hall is also the home to Foster Undergraduate, MBA and Specialty Masters degree program offices and career centers.


A salient spirit of community is woven into every fiber of Founders Hall. This spirit is accentuated in the 5th floor Founders Gallery, which honors the lives and leadership of a consortium of transformational donors—the “Founders” of Founders Hall—who supercharged the private funding of its $79 million construction.

The community ethos echoes throughout the building. Ample space has been dedicated for gatherings both formal and casual, from an outdoor plaza of café tables and comfortable benches to the Atrium and Debra and Arnie Prentice Commons, which beckon chance meetings and spontaneous conversations. The Dick and Laurie Anderson Alumni Suite is the new HQ for post-graduate engagement.

The Thaddeus H. Spratlen Lounge for Inclusion and Diversity is an event space, a hangout and a welcoming foyer to Foster Diversity Services. And Founders Gallery leads to the flexible Peek Family Forum, which opens to the majestic Wipfler Family Terrace and views to Denny Yard and Mount Rainier.

It’s all tied together by the grand central staircase, an architectural marvel of wood and windows that winds the length of the building like a helix-shaped hub of human interaction at every spacious landing.

Foster Purpose

“The purpose of the Foster School is to bring communities together to better humanity through business,” says Frank Hodge, the Orin and Janet Smith Dean of the Foster School. “Founders Hall—with its connections to the Pacific Northwest forest products industry, its Native art, its significantly reduced carbon footprint and its intentional design fostering community and collaboration—is an example of how we are living our purpose as a forward-thinking business school.”

Founders Hall continues the longtime partnership of Foster, LMN Architects and Hoffman Construction. Primary photography by ©Tim Griffith, courtesy of LMN Architects. Additional photography by Paul Gibson and Matt Hagen. Videography by Paul Gibson. Interactive image by Carlin Presnall at Perception Builder, with assistance from Katie Ta.

Ed Kromer Managing Editor Foster School

Ed Kromer is the managing editor of Foster Business magazine. Over the past two decades, he has served as the school’s senior storyteller, writing about a wide array of people, programs, insights and innovations that power the Foster School community.