Facebook pushing ahead with less flashy design for new office campus

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Facebook is choosing substance over flash with the new office campus it is building across the street from its current headquarters building.

The social networking service this week received the go-ahead from the City of Menlo Park, Calif., to erect the custom-built facility that it has been planning for months. Its current home is a former Sun Microsystems facility.

Facebook, however, apparently wants something a bit more low key than the original design.

Facebook hired world-renowned architect Frank Gehry to design the campus. He’s perhaps best known as the architect behind the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, both of which feature distinctive modern-looking metal curved faces.

Images courtesy of City of Menlo Park, Calif.
According to MercuryNews.com, Gehry’s creative partner, Craig Webb, told the city council that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and others at the company asked the famous designer to tone down his original design and drop early ideas such as building ends that would have looked like butterfly wings.

"They felt some of those things were too flashy and not in keeping with the kind of the culture of Facebook, so they asked us to make it more anonymous," Webb said.

Facebook joins the likes of Google and Apple, which are both planning big Silicon Valley building projects that are anything but unassuming.

Consider Apple’s spaceship-shaped facility in Cupertino, Calif., which is slated for completion in 2016. It will have a massive underground auditorium, a parking garage for nearly 5,000 cars, a fitness center, a mostly off-the-grid energy center and a thick layer of trees that will enshroud the four-story ring-shaped building. The circular structure will have huge walls of glass that let Apple employees look out from both sides onto park-like landscaping that includes jogging paths and walking trails.

And Google plans to build an $82 million, 17,000-square-foot private airport terminal in San Jose, Calif., to accommodate its business jets. If approved by the city, it will be an addition to the Mineta San Jose International Airport already located there. It would include a 33,000-square-foot building for offices and retail shops, a 66,000-square-foot hangar, 18.5 acres for aircraft parking and a 300-space car parking lot.

As for Facebook’s new campus, it will house 3,400 engineers in a long 433,555-square-foot building with reconfigurable work and meeting space and a rooftop garden that supposedly will even include oak trees.

The new campus, dubbed Facebook Campus West, will be situated on ground owned by Facebook and reachable by an existing tunnel that already connects the two pieces of ground. It will take about two years to build.

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