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Gates Foundation opens the doors, a crack, with new visitor center | 

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

Even in the restrooms at the new visitor center, the learning goes on. The images on the doors are of a "home latrine in village of Kushumhi, Uttar Pradesh, India," according to the inscription.

If you’ve ever been past the huge new Gates Foundation campus near Seattle Center and wondered what goes on inside – your time has come.

The foundation is opening up its doors, at least a little bit. This weekend, a new visitor center opens to the public.

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The Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation’s new Seattle campus | 

Yeah, I’ve renamed the world’s biggest philanthropy. It will probably take a while for Bill and Melinda to accept the change, but I can wait.

I’m renaming the Seattle philanthropy because it appears to many that Melinda is increasingly acting as the driving force at the foundation. Certainly, insofar as building the new headquarters, Gates humorously confirmed that Melinda was in charge. Here’s my phone video of part of his remarks:

Melinda Gates described the work of the foundation, how the design of the new complex is meant to send a message of reaching out, openness: “I hope this really opens up the foundation … to help people understand what we do.”

So we’ll see if my prediction pans out, that Melinda will increasingly be seen as the agenda-setter and prime mover of the Gates family’s global philanthropic missions.

There have been lots of stories about the grand opening of the Gates Foundation headquarters. I won’t repeat everything said except to note a few more good overview stories:

Seattle Times: New campus a center for local as well as global issues

KPLU: Gates Foundation’s ‘conspicuous’ new building

Geekwire: Bill wrote the checks and Melinda drove the vision for new campus

Puget Sound Business Journal: Gates Foundation throws joyous party to open new campus

SIDE NOTE: Some of you may recall I got a sneak preview of the Gates Foundation’s new campus in late April and Bill Gates was not happy I crashed a party meant for staff only.

I went up to Bill last night to say hi again and he jokingly (I think, since he had a big smile), told me: “We should kick you out tonight to make up for last time.”

I also asked Bill when the media gets to see his and Melinda’s new office. Apparently, few outsiders have been given a tour of that part of the building. He said, for me anyway: “In about 20 years.”

See below or go here for more photos of the Gates Foundation’s new campus and opening night reception.

Clay Holtzman's phone

Something funny is going on

Finally, here’s a shot just in of Bill and me simultaneously amused about something (probably two different things), as captured by Clay Holtzman of the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Slide show: Tour of new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus | 

Here are some more photos from a media tour of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s new Seattle campus, as well as some shots of the evening opening reception.

Two Bills, the Gates Foundation’s new campus and two trees | 

I got a sneak preview of the new Seattle headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Wednesday evening, courtesy of Bill Foege, one of several Bills there.

Foege’s title at the Gates Foundation is “senior fellow.” But that doesn’t really tell you much, except to imply he’s old. It certainly doesn’t tell you how tall he is. He’s a very tall senior fellow.

Tom Paulson

Bill Gates and Bill Foege, at new campus

I don’t think I was supposed to be at this gathering. Bill Gates didn’t seem to want to talk to me. And everybody kept asking me what I was doing there, since the event at the new campus was supposed to be a reception for staff and their guests. So how’d I get past security? Continue reading