News broke this week that world-renowned architect Frank Ghery is commissioned to design Facebook West - a massive new campus for the company's 2,800 engineers located in Menlo Park. According to Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, "The idea is to make the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together. It will be the largest open floor plan in the world."
But the impressive building won't be all work and no play. The roof will be a community park with open fields, walking trails, and rolling hills and the entire campus will connect with the current Facebook campus via an underground tunnel below Highway 101. We can't wait to see Ghery's final product, but with Facebook West's completion date set for 2015 we still have a few years to wait. Lucky for us we recently toured the social network's current campus, which is impressively designed in its own right.
Facebook moved from their Palo Alto offices late last year to the current Menlo Park location inside a complex originally built for Sun Microsystems. The 1.1 million-square-foot eco-friendly space has interiors designed by the San Francisco-based firm Gensler. One of our favorite spots to view the campus is from atop one of the Facebook bridges. These much-used bridges are completely functional - they connect two central buildings - but they also allude to the space's Bay Area location and are painted the exact same color (International Orange) as the Golden Gate Bridge.
We chatted about the quirky and colorful space with Gensler's senior associate Randy Howder who helped lead the Facebook design team. The entire 10-building campus is connected via a single central courtyard, creating the illusion of a small town or university setting. Hallways are lined with chalkboard paint, micro-kitchens for free snacks, and glass-walled conference rooms. The space also includes a few uniquely Facebook accessories such as IT vending machines that dispense computer accessories.
Facebook employees seem to have comfortably moved right in to the new space. Between the swanky gym and bistro-style complimentary cafeteria, we certainly can't blame them. Most employees stay on campus during lunchtime to eat in the cafeteria, located in the center of the courtyard, which features indoor and outdoor picnic-table seating to encourage interaction.
This beautiful wallpaper encircling the cafeteria was custom-designed and hand-made by Roman and Williams, the New York design firm behind the city's chic Ace Hotel. The wallpaper was created from old magazine clippings, mainly featuring pretty pages highlighting recipes and food hand picked by Gensler designers.