While Apple has their iCon, Facebook has engaged the iconic Frank Gehry to design their Menlo Park campus expansion with plans to break ground in early 2013.

From Facebook’s Environmental Design Manager, Everett Katigbak on the design:

It will be a large, one room building that somewhat resembles a warehouse. 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.

We’ve paid just as much attention to the outside as well. The exterior 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. The raw, unfinished look of our buildings means we can construct them quickly and with a big emphasis on being eco-friendly. Of course, we’ll maintain our current campus and use an underground tunnel to connect the two.

The new building will house up to 2,800 engineers.

33 thoughts on “Frank Gehry Engaged To Design Facebook’s Menlo Park Expansion”
  1. If one of your main corporate goals is to throw up something quickly, and keeping the “look” of the buildings “raw, unfinished” is the main way you go about it, well then why do you need to hire Frank Gehry?
    Because you have too much money on your hands from the recent IPO and need to disgorge it on a starchitect?

  2. Menlo is going to get a Gehry before San Francisco? There’s something very wrong with that. Now I’m even more disappointed with our ‘winning’ Transbay tower design.

  3. No costs have been revealed. How do you know it is a complete waste of money? It looks simple to construct, with the main extra expenses being paying Gehry and planting trees on top of the building. But these flourishes will help get city approval for the design, so they aren’t complete wastes of money.

  4. This, along with Apple’s future iCon headquarters makes me wonder, what is keeping these companies from wanting to be in San Francisco? Why did they not jump into Mission Bay or some new tower (Transbay?)? Does the majority of their staff REALLY wish they could live in San Francisco, or would they prefer the schools and homes of Menlo Park or Redwood City?
    As we have discussed before, the popular properties in the city have all of the SUBURBAN requirements: 1.)garage, 2.)yard, 3.) easy access to freeways, 4.)single family home, etc. etc.
    In the last 10 years, one would have done very well investing in single family home properties in Menlo Park compared to high priced condos in San Francisco.

  5. So you reference the popular aspects of SF single families and then make a comparison of menlo houses to SF condos?

  6. anon: go to youtube and look up steve jobs’ addressing the cupertino city council about apple’s plans and imagine what would result from that exchange in SF.

  7. Definitely, great point anon. For that matter why don’t Exxon, Wal Mart and General Motors move to “popular” SF if it’s “so great for families.”
    Whatever. Get some new material already.

  8. And on this campus just like on Farmville, your chicken will never die. Except if Zuckerberg decides to take it down with his crossbow.

  9. @anon1, I think there are real lessons for people who study urban areas with issues such as this project. Why wouldn’t “forward thinking” companies not select to move to cities where their footprint would be smaller, and their staff could not use cars?
    I recently visited the Patagonia headquarters which is located in a refurbished iron works in Ventura California. The parking lot spaces are covered with solar panels and most of the staff commutes with bikes.
    Facebook, Google, Apple etc are no different than IBM and Microsot, they all want their big bling headquarters where they can make a “statement” at the expense of the planet.
    Why does the San Francisco Armory get Kink.com instead of a company (or one smaller) like this?

  10. A developer proposed converting the Armory to dot com offices (and later, there was a proposal for a server farm, and still later, for condos). Those proposed conversions were blocked by anti-development activists. Unlike the prior proposals, Kink.com didn’t need permits to alter the historic building.

  11. Many large corporations prefer the control of secluded suburban office campuses. SF is doing fine with those companies looking for urban space. In fact, there is a shortage of space right now, according to those looking to expand in the city.

  12. @anon
    There are tons of tech companies in SF, many of them high profile, ever heard of Salesforce or Twitter?
    The armory is in one of the worst areas of SF, maybe in 10-15 years when the mission fully gentrifies there will be respectable companies interested in that location.

  13. I am aware of which companies are in San Francisco, and I am also aware of which companies are in the peninsula and South Bay. I am also familiar with who blocked projects for the Armory.
    What I am trying to say is, for how long have the suburbs of the Bay Area driven this region’s economy vs. the city? We are the exact opposite of a traditional center city model region, yet everyone goes on and on about how cars are not necessary and how much more density there is here.
    I still stand by my opinion that the Bay Area has more in common with some of the modern southwest sprawling cities, than the European cities San Francisco loves to compare itself to.
    There is nothing urban, forward thinking, or groundbreaking about this new headquarters.

  14. ^yawn, another person who thinks only about Silicon Valley and refuses to actually look at, you know, real data.
    SF is a jobs exporter. Period.
    The vast (vast!) majority of jobs in the region are not in the South Bay. Period.
    All metro areas in this country have more people and jobs in the suburbs than in the central cities, due to the way that political boundaries are drawn. And yes, that includes New York.
    Why does this matter? It doesn’t.

  15. In other news AAPL was vindicated on its patents claims vs Samsung. There’s still possibility for appeals, but this could make Apple’s competitor’s products less attractive and therefore maintain Apple’s dominance in the iPhone/iPad domain.

  16. Nah. Even if this is upheld on appeal, it will have no impact on competitors. These patents had no real value (not that a billion dollars is chum change, but it is to these two companies). Samsung has already designed around them.
    Apple has a long history of copying others, then claiming “originality” and deriding others who copy others.

  17. ^yawn, another person who thinks only about Silicon Valley and refuses to actually look at, you know, real data.
    You can have your own yawns, not your own facts.
    Let’s look at real data here:
    If we define:
    “North” = Marin, Sonoma, Napa counties
    “East” = Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda counties
    “South” = San Mateo, Santa Clara counties
    San Francisco = San Francisco County
    Then we find:
    Number of Jobs:
    South: 1,216 K
    East: 1,081 K
    San Francisco: 572 K
    North: 346 K
    And more importantly, if we multiply the number of jobs by the average weekly wage per job, we get the following in terms of aggregate wage income by region.
    South: $2.14 Billion/week
    East: $1.25 Billion/week
    San Francisco: $913 Million/week
    North: $341 Million/week
    The fact of the matter is the economic engine of the region both by number of jobs and by total income is in the south bay.
    Within tech, the city is the place to be if you are doing front end web design with javascript or ruby or rails, but that the south bay is the place to be for more adult programming, such as systems code, database, OS, storage, business application development, etc. Don’t forget that the epicenters of tech are Stanford and Berkeley.
    Of course, there are exceptions: Adobe, Salesforce are the two big tech companies in the city, but they are medium sized firms. Twitter and Zynga are up and coming, but are small firms. The south bay is home to behemoths such as Oracle/HP/Intel/Apple.
    All metro areas in this country have more people and jobs in the suburbs than in the central cities, due to the way that political boundaries are drawn.
    Uhh, no. It is due to people and businesses who prefer to pay less for land.
    Of course you need more than just low land prices, but if you have a low land price region sitting next to a high land price region, then odds are pretty good that the marginal investment and marginal job growth will be biased to the lower land price region, for obvious reasons. It is not a political conspiracy. To a large degree, cheaper transportation facilitates this, which is one of the reasons why transportation deserves to be subsidized — it promotes economic growth by reducing the monopoly power of incumbent landlords.
    Moreover, the boundaries of San Francisco are firmly set by geography and history. It is not some pro-suburb conspiracy that accounts for the city’s shape, although we could substantially improve the city and lower land costs here with a more aggressive pro-growth/anti-incumbent agenda.

  18. ^Why would we separate out the East Bay from San Francisco as far as the region goes? My statement was that the vast majority of Bay Area jobs are not in the South Bay, and AGAIN, someone comes back and says that the South Bay “region” 40 miles long has more jobs than other regions, while separating out Oakland and SF less than five miles apart. That makes no sense.

  19. LOL, that is pretty hilarious. I see that Oyster Point is now part of the South Bay too! Maybe we should inflate the South Bay some more by giving the “region” all of Alameda County too? I mean Fremont has some tech firms, right?
    Some lovely playing with numbers going on…

  20. As someone who grew up in San Mateo Co. and SF and comes from an old SF family I am offended that the person above called the Peninsula the “South Bay”
    How dare you sir? How dare you!
    “Moreover, the boundaries of San Francisco are firmly set by geography and history. It is not some pro-suburb conspiracy that accounts for the city’s shape”
    You know nothing of our history

  21. Ask people who have worked in Gehry designed buildings… he designs them to be looked at, not lived in. His building on the MIT campus had awkwardly designed offices, no closets or storage, and was riddled with leaks and design flaws that became apparent after the building was occupied. MIT finally had to sue over the design problems. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/07/us/07mit.html)

  22. Uhh, no. It is due to people and businesses who prefer to pay less for land.
    Of course if you’re building on the peninsula, you probably need a whole lot more land than if you’re building in the city (anyone want to compare Facebook or Google and Twitter in terms of land per employee?)

  23. it is a wonder why Oakland is not seen as part of the same metro area as SF. It is so simple to commute between the two on a bike after all;
    face it, SF is outmoded; in today’s world the only reason to have cities is so that (1) all the undesirables can be kept together and (2) the hipster boys can find the hipster girls (before they move out to the suburbs). Other than that you don’t come to the city unless you’re in need of recalling the sweet smell of urine.

  24. From the looks of things, Allison Arieff, the design and architecture columnist for the New York Times agrees with anon. From a somewhat inartfully written piece posted earlier this evening, Facebook Plays It Safe, she bemoans the architectural choices Facebook made:

    The choice of Gehry might have been “game-changing” — to use the parlance of the start-up community — two decades ago. Today, it’s a safe bet, representing Facebook’s true transition from rogue start-up to the establishment (no matter how strenuously they might dispute that designation).

    …Choosing him makes sense for a culture-changing company like Facebook, but it might be losing its edge. Why go for such an established icon? Why not choose a small, unknown firm as “lean and nimble” (to borrow some Valley jargon) as so many of the companies responsible for the currently exploding knowledge-worker economy in the region? Or someone established but more surprising? (They do this for interior spaces buy why not the take the same approach to the stuff visible to the outside world?)

    …It’s not wholly surprising: Early adapters in everything from gadgets to sportswear, tech folks often grow strangely conventional when it comes to the built environment. Start-ups may have begun life in a garage or cafe, but it seems ultimately all roads lead to the office park.

    And now to the part that directly touches on the point that ‘anon’ raised above:

    Earlier this year, the architecture critic Paul Goldberger and I spoke at an event on urban design in San Jose, Calif., hosted by SPUR, the urban planning and policy think tank where I work. When asked what might help make San Jose the true “center of Silicon Valley,” Goldberger made the unorthodox suggestion that instead of commissioning Foster’s corporate campus, Apple should have moved from Cupertino and set up shop in neighboring San Jose, effectively transforming California’s second-largest city into an economic and cultural powerhouse. The local crowd buzzed with excitement at this provocative suggestion, but Apple won’t go urban anytime soon.

    Nor will Facebook, which could have opted for the same radical move Goldberger put out there for Apple. “We are creating the new urban place to work,” said the Facebook real estate chief John Tenanes when the main campus was occupied, but really the company has chosen to approximate the experience of urbanism rather than the reality of it…

    Go read the whole thing, it’ll make you think of the salesforce.com urban campus debacle.
    She gets around to acknowledging that Dan at 25th, 2012 4:29 PM above is essentially correct: control of the environment and the people on the corporate campus trumps “forward thinking” everytime, even in fairly young companies. Salesforce and Twiter are the exceptions that prove the rule.

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