What does a rich man do to create dreams for the world? Build a palace or own an island?
Bill Gates created a spectacular foundation headquarters with a price tag of $500 million (just for the first phase, too!). Some of it was spent on advanced — and costly — ideas. On June 2, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation celebrated the opening of its magnificent 12-acre campus, which at present houses two main U-shaped buildings.
Because money is no issue, Melinda can design the project however she wants. Bill admitted that he didn’t have much to do with the design. He just OK’ed changes to the budget changes, which was quite a bit more than expected, he said. Everything within the campus is state-of-the-art and includes green technology, vibrant work spaces, and outdoor areas.
The artworks are high-end. A painting from Korean artist Choi Young Wook, whose work hangs on the semi-private third floor of one building, costs $40,000.
Even the garage adjacent to the campus looks grand. In partnership with the City of Seattle, the garage is insulated, with a bird-friendly living roof, limiting rainwater runoff.
Bill did not even dress up for the occasion before an audience of 1,000 community leaders. It’s not his style. The other guy in the room who dressed like Bill was Scott Oki, who worked at Microsoft during its early years.
“These guys don’t need to impress anybody or ask for any favors,” my son said. “So why bother to dress nicely?”
Bill doesn’t open his mouth much with strangers. He plays the role of a listener. He doesn’t shake many hands nor does he show much public affection toward Melinda either. When he finished his speech and handed over his microphone to her, there was no hug or kiss. She was the one to put her hand on his back. ♦