The events being planned will include visits from the buildings' namesakes, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Pittsburgh philanthropists Henry and Elsie Hillman, who will help the university celebrate five decades of leadership in computer science education and research.
Although School of Computer Science faculty, staff and students will begin occupying the buildings in August, the September celebration will mark the formal opening and offer a chance for the Carnegie Mellon community to reflect on the history and future of computer science at the university, a spokesman said.
With a lead gift of $20 million, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made possible the Gates Center, which will be home to the school's undergraduate programs. The center will feature classrooms, laboratories, offices, study spaces, conference rooms and collaborative work areas for students, faculty and staff.
The Henry L. Hillman Foundation's gift of $10 million was instrumental in the creation of the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies, which adjoins the Gates Center. The Hillman Center is designed to house some of the university's most promising research in computer science.
Hillman, a successful venture capitalist and investor, and his wife Elsie are prominent regional civic leaders whose philanthropies have focused on ways that science and technology can improve human life, health, work and prosperity. Strong supporters of Pittsburgh-area universities, the Hillmans have called their gift to Carnegie Mellon recognition of its role in the economic growth of western Pennsylvania, and of the powerful role that computer science plays in shaping the future of the region.
A significant number of donors have complemented the generosity of the Gates and Hillman foundations by naming spaces and other features of the building, and additional opportunities remain available.
The event will mark Bill Gates's third visit to a Carnegie Mellon campus in 18 months. In February 2008, Gates visited Pittsburgh to deliver a lecture called "Bill Gates Unplugged: On Software, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Giving Back."
On April 18, Gates visited Carnegie Mellon's campus in Doha, Qatar, to give the keynote address at the Third International Conference on Information and Communications Technologies and Development, the premier conference for innovating technology accessible and relevant to developing economies.
With multiple entrances and pedestrian bridges, the new centers will literally and figuratively connect disparate areas of campus. Notable connections include the Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge, which will link the fifth floor of the Gates Center to the Purnell Center for the Arts. The bridge, university officials note, connects computer science with the arts --- much as Pausch did in life --- while physically tying together the east and west sides of campus.
An enclosed fourth-floor bridge will connect the Gates Center to Newell-Simon Hall, where a new bridge will span the Perlis Atrium. The walkways will provide the first direct pedestrian connection from the Cut to Wean Hall and the rest of the campus mall.
Inside the Gates Center, the Pausch and Newell-Simon bridges are connected via a helix that its designers say echoes the connections of computer science to many related areas of research and education at Carnegie Mellon.
The Gates and Hillman centers were designed by Atlanta-based Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects to achieve a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or "LEED," rating for sustainable buildings from the U.S. Green Building Council.