Facebook + Frank Gehry: The Story So Far

There isn’t really much breaking news in the world of Office Snapshots, though I would probably categorize last week’s news that legendary architect Frank Gehry will be designing Facebook’s West Campus extension as such. And apparently I missed it.

But given that my mind has been shaped by campus research of late, the news couldn’t have come at a better time. Let’s dig in!

The Architect

Most people will point out that Frank Gehry is well-known for completing such fantastic designs as Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but for the purposes of this article, I’m interested in some of his other work. Specifically other office projects like the IAC Headquarters Building in New York or the Binoculars Building in Los Angeles.

In both of the latter projects, Gehry designed eye-catching structures that fit the personalities of the companies they were built to house.

The Design

Designed by Gehry to be a large one-room building that ‘resembles a warehouse’, the entire concept and design will be done taking into account Facebook’s engineering culture. The ~420,000 sqft space will be completely open plan and provide workspaces for Facebook’s 2,800 member strong Menlo Park engineering staff.

Facebook’s Environmental Design Manager, Everett Katigbak notes, “Just like we do now, everyone will sit out in the open with desks that can be quickly shuffled around as teams form and break apart around projects.  There will be cafes and lots of micro-kitchens with snacks so that you never have to go hungry.  And we’ll fill the building with break-away spaces with couches and whiteboards to make getting away from your desk easy. ”

Bloomberg’s James S. Russell explains of the design that “work benches line up in curving arcs like swarms of fish. They are organized into work-group “neighborhoods” dotted with meeting rooms that might be painted with graffiti and ad hoc lounges furnished with arcade- game consoles.”

Personally, the new design seems to hearken back to their Palo Alto office designed by Studio O+A. It too had a very open, ‘warehouse style’ with similar breakout spaces throughout. (See photos here)

The exterior will be equally impressive. Katigbak added that it “takes into account the local architecture so that it fits in well with its surroundings.  We’re planting a ton of trees on the grounds and more on the rooftop garden that spans the entire building.” Mixed throughout the rooftop are skylights that will bathe the interior with natural light.

Though not seen in the photos, employee parking for the expansion will be housed beneath the building echoing Apple’s recently unveiled campus plans. A company spokesperson added that the designers are aiming for LEED Gold certification.

Groundbreaking is planned for 2013.

The West Campus

As for the history of the project, Menlo Park documents show that the West Campus, a 22-acre, former Tyco Electronics parcel, has been planned for development since at least December 8, 2011. A spokesperson for Facebook confirmed that the creation of an all-engineering section of the campus had indeed been in planning prior to their 2011 move.

An early drawing of the proposed site – pre-Gehry – is seen below as shown in Facebook’s proposal to Menlo Park city officials.

The  ‘Campus Connector’ as noted above will actually be a nicely developed tunnel that brings the two campuses together. Currently, the zone is some sort of drainage culvert, though unusable, it should make tunneling beneath an easier project.

Additional Photos

Photography Credit: 1-3 by Everett Katigbak/Facebook. 4-5 by Frank Gehry/Gehry Partners