Bill & Melinda Gates Discovery Center

Merit Award 2018

"How can each of us make a difference?" That's the question asked by the Bill and Melinda Gates Discovery Center. New interactive experiences bring their work to life, illuminate the challenges they face, and educate every visitor on how they can find their passion and take action to make a difference.

The Discovery Center is a 15,000-square-foot exhibition and office space in the heart of Seattle. Certified LEED Gold, the Discovery Center is designed to foster a collaborative working environment and help educate the public about the organization’s mission.

Bluecadet Interactive was approached to enhance the use of digital, creating more meaningful opportunities for the Gates Foundation to tell its story while also inviting visitors to contribute their voices and perspectives on a range of global issues. In collaboration with the staff of the Discovery Center and exhibit designers at Olson Kundig, Pacific Studio and C&G Partners, Bluecadet Interactive developed multiple programs for the Discovery Center.

Each of the Bluecadet Interactive-designed projects began with collaborative workshopping sessions, bringing together teams from the Discovery Center as well as collaborators in exhibition, technology and fabrication. These workshops ranged from acting out design scenarios to sketching around paper prototypes of screen sizes and digital content. 

As the team moved from opportunity development through concept and production, they developed a range of high- and low-tech prototypes. These included projecting interfaces to scale, “bodystorm” sessions around paper mockups of screens, white-boarding sessions and a series of technical prototypes.

Stay Connected helps sustain the Gates Foundation as an institution that’s connected to the world and includes a massive social media touch wall featuring interactive content from thought-leaders and philanthropists around the world.

Global Challenges, the centerpiece of the Discovery Center, is a multi-user interactive floor display that leverages touchscreen technology and the extraordinary data collected by the Gates Foundation to create a clear representation of the challenges they face in their mission to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. The animated floor map is controlled by intuitive touchscreen tables activated by physical pucks that visitors use to explore issues in greater detail and push their findings to the map.

Community Photo Booth was in need of an upgrade. Now, through a seamless and streamlined experience, visitors are invited to snap a photo, share where they’re from and add a personalized response to a prompt about their goals or hopes for how they might impact change. Visitors can then share a digital postcard of their photo and message by SMS or email to allow for social sharing. The photo and message are also instantly added to a large digital display wall that anchors the center sightlines of the gallery. This display wall alternates between playful grids reflecting the most recent visitors as well as a map animation that visualizes the many states and countries visitors have traveled from.

Interactive Video Portraits welcomes visitors to the Discovery Center with life-size interactive video portraits of individuals sharing powerful personal stories about how the Foundation has improved their lives, from a healthcare worker in India to a struggling single mother in Seattle.

Jury Comments: 

"This graphically beautiful digital content connects exhibit themes to everyday life through both intellectual and emotional connections. It is a good demonstration that investing in refreshing digital content can keep museums relevant over time without a complete redesign."

"Has all of the best elements of a great storytelling environment with a thoughtful use of technology as a way of bringing personal stories to life. With a perfect balance of interactivity, data visualization and the human perspective, the Center is a great example of socially conscious design that promotes engagement and activation."

Design Firms: 

Bluecadet Interactive

Client: 

Bill & Melinda Gates Discovery Center

Project Area: 

15,000 sq ft

Open Date: 

2016

Photo Credits: 

Dan King / Bluecadet (photography, videography)

Design Team: 

Lilly Preston (account manager); Ksenia Dynkin (project manager and content developer); Maya Bogdanow (project manager); Brett Renfer (creative director); Katie Savage, Janet Lu, Sam Winfield, Jillian Hammer,  Aaron Richardson, (design); Dan King (film); Ben Bojko (technical director); Madeline Osborn (content developer); Kevin Zakszewski, Henry Steinberg, Pete Inge, Weili Shi, Shaun Baer, Chris Arasin, Betina Dalope, Sarah Polansky, (development);  Nick Greenawalt, Devon Burgoyne, Siji Chen (motion); Brad Baer (strategy)

Consultants: 

C&G Partners
Olson Kundig Architects

Fabricators: 

Pacific Studio

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