AKA: University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Wallace, John M., Hall, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Nelsen, Ibsen, and Associates, Architects (firm); Ibsen Andreas Nelsen (architect)

Dates: constructed 1976

2 stories

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3737 Brooklyn Avenue NE
University of Washington (UW) Campus, Seattle, WA 98195

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Zip code also given on Google Maps/Street View as 98105. The code 98195 covers all buildings on the UW Seattle Campus.

Building History

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. David Dekker opened the Pacific Northwest’s first academic computing laboratory at the University of Washington (UW) on 09/11/1956. A writer for the Seattle Times described the high-tech machine: “The magnetic drum, operating on the principle of a magnetic tape recorder, can store or ‘memorize’ 20,000 digits. It is used to set up the problem. A problem that would take eight hours to do by hand on a desk calculator can be solved in five seconds with the new machine, university authorities said. A more difficult problem, which would require a week’s work by hand, takes a little more time—about five minutes.”

The UW Departments of Mathematics and Business Administration became the first on campus to access the Research Computing Center’s IBM Model 650’s “electronic brain." The Seattle Times writer noted that the computer would be used for two new classes: “Mathematics students will take a course known as ‘numerical analysis.’ The business students’ course will be called ‘data processing.’ Dr. Carl B. Allendoerfer, head of the Mathematics Department and chairman of an intercollegiate committee on high-speed computers, said university departments previously had been sending work requiring electronic calculation to California and New York. The I.B.M. Co. rents the machine to the university, donating 60 per cent of the basic rental fee of about $60,000, a year. The National Science Foundation is contributing $17,500 a year. University research and rental charges to departments using the machine will make up the rest of the cost.” (See “U.W. Opens Regions’s First Research Computing Center,” Seattle Times, 09/11/1956, p. 11.)

In an adjacent story in the same issue of the Seattle Times, the Boeing Airplane Company announced that it had begun operating a rented IBM Model 705 computer beginning on 09/10/1956. An official ceremony attended by William M. Allen, Boeing’s President and Thomas J. Watson, IBM’s President, launched the computer’s first day of work calculating “…payroll, stores, records, accounts payable, labor and material distribution, material records and other assignments. Savings of more than $500,000 are expected through use of the machine. Rental is $36,500 a month.”

In 2010, the University of Washington chose to rename the Academic Computing Center for John "Mike" Wallace, a renowned UW atmospheric sciences professor. A UW news web site noted two honors bestowed on Wallace in 2010, for his pioneering research on global climate change: "His impact on climate science, at the UW and globally, led to two recent noteworthy events on campus. In September, friends and colleagues from around the world gathered for a two-day Wallace Symposium that was billed as a celebration of his 70th birthday and his many contributions to science, students and the community. This summer, the former Academic Computing Center, which now houses the new College of the Environment, the Program on the Environment and a UW-based institute he headed for many years, was renamed John M. Wallace Hall." (See Vince Stricherz, UW News.edu, “Illustrious career brings singular honors for Mike Wallace,” published 10/07/2010, accessed 09/03/2020.)

The UW Program on the Environment continued to occupy Wallace Hall in 2020.

Building Notes

In 1959, a multi-family residence stood at 3737 Brooklyn Avenue NE, the site of the ACC. Multiple residents were listed at this address in 1959 and 1960. (See “Deaths,” Seattle Times, 07/15/1959, p. 46, “News of Northwest Residents Serving in Armed Forces,” Seattle Times, 12/21/1959, p. 56, andand “Born Yesterday,” Seattle Times, 11/04/1960, p. 49.)

In the mid-1980s, the Academic Computing Center was used by the UW as a space to sell discounted Apple, Digital Equipment, IBM, Microsoft and Zenith personal computers to students, faculty and staff. Seattle Post-Intelligencer writer Steven Goldsmith observed that this direct sale location was considered a success in getting personal computers available to a wide swath of the campus community: “A total of 2,800 systems were sold the first year, at discounts up to 50 percent.” (See Steven Goldsmith, “UW leaves out sales pitches in new computer showroom,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 04/08/1985, p. C8.) This kind of program also occurred at many other large research universities after the introduction of Apple's Macintosh in 1984.

An investigative team for the Seattle Public Utilities found in the summer of 2007 that at least two buildings on the UW campus were inadvertently piping raw sewage into nearby Portage Bay. Two bathrooms in the Academic Computing Center and restrooms and sinks at the UW Maintenance Shop located at 3902 Cowlitz Road NE deposited an unknown quantity of effluent into the bay. “In both cases, UW maintenance and alterations director Rick Cheney said, workers renovating older buildings owned by the university were relying on out-of-date schematics. Cheney said the drawings mistakenly labeled the stormwater pipe - which carries untreated rainwater into Portage Bay - as a city sewer line. While no one knows how many gallons of waste were released, the state Department of Ecology estimates that, on average, a worker creates about 30 gallons of wastewater in an eight-hour shift. For the UW shop and its 25 employees, that equates to roughly 750 gallons of contaminated water a day. The UW was billed $9,000 to cover the city investigators' expenses, a sum it has paid. A Department of Ecology spokesman said his agency has been told of the problem and will not fine the university.” (See Levi Pulkkinen, “Sewage Spilled into Portage Bay Is Traced to UW—Four-Month Investigation Finds Pollution Source,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 08/30/2007, p. A1.) For the maintenance shop alone, during a five-day work week, this would have meant that approximately 66,000 gallons of sewage was piped into the bay.


The University of Washington Master Plan Seattle Campus, Annual Report, June 2012, noted, “The Academic Computing center is on site 44S and would be demolished if a new building were built on this site.” (See City of Seattle.gov, “Appendix C,” University of Washington Master Plan Seattle Campus, Annual Report, June 2012, p. 22.)

PCAD id: 10146