Carnegie Mellon University Gates and Hillman Centers

Faced with a hilly site in the center of campus, and a program that required more than 200,000 square feet of classroom, office, laboratory, and study spaces, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects raised the bulk of the new Gates Center for Computer Science and Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies above its hillside site, creating a cantilevered complex that seems to hang in midair.

Reaching seven stories tall at the top of the hill, the Gates Center (right in photo) and Hillman Center (left in photo) are connected by a multistory glass-enclosed bridge. The two centers share a vocabulary of black, diamond-shaped zinc tiles with varied silver-toned window surrounds combined with a more traditional curtainwall.

The sixth and seventh floors of the Gates Center are glass-enclosed and offset from the other floor plates. This glass volume is filled mainly with open project space and a collaborative commons, as well as conference rooms and select faculty offices. The glazing continues on the façades lining the courtyard spaces between the two buildings, creating a visual connection between them.

The varied floor plans—hardly one of the nine matches that directly above or below it—create room for courtyards, terraces, and even a small green roof. This terrace between the Gates and Hillman Centers provides not only an outdoor study space, but also a view for the classrooms, offices, and lounge spaces that line it.

Scogin and Elam placed a premium on natural light and view lines that connect the different floors and programs. Stairwell atria promote interaction between the building users. This one in the Hillman Center connects faculty offices, informal lounge spaces, and a student café.

Other, necessarily enclosed, spaces such as almost 120 faculty offices, classrooms, and laboratory high bays (shown) are connected to the rest of the building and campus through extensive use of glazing.

In the Gates Center, a central 650-foot-long spiral ramp called the Helix 1 visually connects four stories even as it wraps around glass-enclosed classrooms and meeting spaces.

The Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge.

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