Seattle, WA

PH: 206.675.9151

1050 N 38th St

Seattle, WA 98103

Walla Walla, WA

PH: 206.224.3344

Burlington, VT

PH: 802.391.4523


Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences


University of Washington


Seattle, Washington




Creating a world-class facility for early learning research.

The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus is a nexus of 21st century research on the science of early learning. Its research focuses on brain development during the first five years of life, the only facility of its kind in the world. SHKS Architects transformed an auditorium in the Portage Bay Building into a technology enabled collaboration space for the institute. Intended as both a research forum and a “brain theater,” the project brings together scientists from the global community who are focused on understanding the early development of the brain. A range of collaboration spaces and a viewing platform for observers are woven together to form a vital place for research and learning. Existing building systems were extended within a constrained space to maintain thermal comfort and achieve sustainable energy consumption. A limited use, limited application lift provides vertical access to all spaces within a limited footprint. Exterior improvements to the building included additional openings in the envelope for natural daylight, a wider entry path, and new native landscaping.