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Announcing Gates Hall: The Future Home of GRI

Today W&M announced the exciting news that the Global Research Institute will be getting a new permanent home in 2026: Robert M. Gates Hall, a LEED-certified, state-of-the-art renovation of the former Brown Hall on North Boundary Street. Read the official announcement here.

Rendering of Gates Hall exterior, photo courtesy of Glavé & Holmes Architecture.Thanks to a $30 million gift from an anonymous William & Mary alumna, who is a W&M Foundation trustee, the former Brown Hall will be transformed into a multi-disciplinary hub for research and teaching that addresses global challenges such as economic development and inequality, geopolitical conflict, national security, and conservation. The building will be named for the former U.S. Secretary of Defense (2006-2011) and current university Chancellor Robert M. Gates ’65, L.H.D. ’98, becoming the first academic building in the nation to bear Gates’ name. It will house GRI, the Institute for Integrative Conservation, and the Whole of Government Center of Excellence.

Rendering of Gates Hall interior atrium, photo courtesy of Glavé & Holmes Architecture.Reflecting on the new building, GRI Director Mike Tierney said, “It’s hard to believe that GRI started in the basement of Morton Hall 20 years ago. We’ve been a bit of a campus vagabond over the past 20 years, moving from Morton Hall to Corner House to Blow Hall to Scotland Street. I’m thrilled that we will be able to work in a research environment that is built and fit for purpose. Place matters, and I’m incredibly grateful for the vision and partnership provided by President Rowe who helped to imagine such a facility years ago. We are committed to maintaining the sense of community and scrappiness we’ve built over the years at our little house on Scotland Street—but now with lighting, technology, and collaborative space that is designed to enhance creativity and enable us to work at a higher level.”

Rendering of Gates Hall courtyard, photo courtesy of Glavé & Holmes Architecture.This news comes during another impactful transition for GRI, as this week the Institute moved out of the beloved yellow house on Scotland Street and into our new location for the next two years: Swem Library. GRI is joining IIC and WGC in The Hive, a new space on the ground floor of the library.

“My strong belief is that co-locating will lead to more and better applied collaborative research than we have produced in the past," Tierney said. "There is something about face-to-face engagements that are critical to the creative process, and GRI has always enabled transformative in-person engagement in different formats, from formal presentations at seminars to informal conversations at a BBQ. Random interactions with people from different disciplines that spark ideas that lead to creative solutions to real world problems, and this new building is designed to encourage those in-person interactions.”