Bill Gates may have written the checks for his foundation’s beautiful new $500 million campus in the heart of Seattle. But it was his wife, Melinda, who brought the vision to life and drove the process over the past six years.
In a lighthearted moment at tonight’s opening ceremony (video below), Bill Gates joked that he kept writing the checks as the price tag kept going up for the 12 acre campus next to Seattle’s iconic Space Needle.
“During the building project, I wasn’t much involved. So, I get no real credit at all, except in one small way, which is, as the budget changed, I accommodated the change,” Gates said to laughs from the crowd. “So, I thought, wow, it must be a pretty nice place, knowing where that number finally arrived at. But, actually coming here, it is even way better than I expected. It really is a pretty unique place.”
The party was attended by a number of dignitaries, from U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell to former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels to Zillow.com Chairman Rich Barton.
In comments to the media, Melinda Gates said that she wants the foundation to “feel more transparent to people” and for the mystery of the organization to disappear as members of the community become more engaged in its mission. While the foundation has a global mission, she also pointed out that it very much is rooted in Seattle.
(See earlier post: “Inside look at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s new Seattle HQ”)