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University of Texas at Austin Breaks Ground on New Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Hall

The Department of Computer Science breaks ground on the Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall today with a street fair celebration called DigCS.

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The Department of Computer Science breaks ground on the Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall today with a street fair celebration called DigCS.

Gates Complex from Speedway

The new Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex to be built on Speedway. Rendering by architects Pelli Clarke Pelli. 

Groundbreaking for the building complex marks the start of a new era for the Department of Computer Science. After completion in December 2012, the complex’s two buildings and connecting atrium will house the department — ranked eighth in the nation — under one roof for the first time in its history.

The department is the only top-10 department in the United States that does not have one central home. The shift to a new facility is expected to propel the department’s research and education programs to even greater heights and bring increased vitality to the Central Texas technology economy.

“Technology innovation is absolutely critical to our future, and this new building complex will serve as a catalyst for advances in computer science,” says university President William Powers Jr. “More important, it will provide for an even higher standard of education for those students who will become the next computing innovators, entrepreneurs and teachers.”

Computer Science Department Chair Dr. Bruce Porter says, “The Gates Complex will enable the department to take on a great many initiatives in research and teaching that were previously impossible for lack of coherent space. In anticipation of the new building, faculty are already proposing new research directions and collaborations, along with new courses and degree plans that will significantly expand the department’s impact and reach.”

Gates Complex Atrium

An interior view of the atrium of the new Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex. The atrium connects Dell Computer Science Hall with the south building. Rendering by Pelli Clarke Pelli. 

Computer science students are thrilled to see the new building become a reality.

“Although I will miss the times I have spent in Taylor Hall throughout my undergraduate studies, I look forward to the cutting-edge resources and expanded opportunities that this new complex will provide for future students,” says Roy Scott, computer science undergraduate. “DigCS is our way of celebrating an important milestone for our department and showing our appreciation for the overwhelming generosity of donors who are turning our dreams into reality.”

The 140,000-square-foot complex is replacing Taylor Hall on Speedway Avenue, and will also connect with the Applied Computational Engineering and Sciences Building, home to computer science and engineering faculty, the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) and the Texas Advanced Computing Center’s VisLab.

More than $40 million in private funding has been raised so far to construct the building complex, $30 million of which was contributed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dell Computer Science Hall, the north building of the complex, has been named to honor the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation’s $50 million gift to the University of Texas System to support a variety of programs in technology and human health. That gift includes $10 million for building of the complex.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to these foundations for their support of the future of computer science education at this university and its subsequent impact on innovations in computing that will emerge from this department,” says Dr. Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences.

The total cost of the complex is $120 million, of which $97 million has been committed. In addition to the $40 million in private funding, The University of Texas System committed $20 million and The University of Texas at Austin committed $37 million. The College of Natural Sciences is seeking $23 million to complete the complex.

A key innovation in the new complex, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, is the use of “research clusters.” The complex will house 10 clusters designed to encourage collaboration and innovation with each having a large glassed-in laboratory surrounded by a mix of faculty, graduate student and visitor offices, open discussion areas and a large conference room. Faculty and students will be able to come together in coherent research space to share ideas in areas such as digital media, cybersecurity, computer architecture, artificial intelligence and robotics.

New student facilities include an open atrium for community-building and studying, dedicated spaces for the Turing Scholars honors program and other student groups, computing labs and study lounges.

Learn more about the Gates Computer Science Complex.

View a schedule of DigCS events.