Photos: Frank Gehry/Gehry Partners via Bloomberg
Forget the lead photo and headline. Pretend like you didn't know that Frank Gehry has designed Facebook's new 433,555-square-foot campus expansion. If it were up to Zuck & Co., you'd have no idea who was the architect behind The Social Network's "very anonymous" new building. It's just that unspectacular. Because when you want bland, everyone knows you call Frank Gehry. (That could work either way...)
Earlier this week, Facebook got the go-ahead from the Menlo Park city council to commence construction on "Facebook West," the new block of facilities that will sit just across the road from the company's current Paolo Alto digs. The 4-0 vote passed rezoning measures that would exempt the very long office building from current legislation that prevents buildings to exceed 35 feet in length. The council also signed off on an environmental report that sanctions the expansive project as ecologically responsible.
As for the design, little else has been revealed since initial details were released last August, though the Palo Alto Daily News sheds some light on Facebook's involvement in the architectural process. The expansion --- a long shed-like structure comprising interconnected volumes or "neighborhoods" with a continuous roof garden that runs the full length of the building --- was apaprently designed with much input from Mark Zuckerberg and colleagues, who rejected some of Gehry's more elaborate flourishes. (Though, somehow, an elevated serpentine promenade still made the cut.) According to Gehry partner Craig Webb, "(t)hey 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." Certain "butterfly wings" that would adorn the building's corners were trimmed, per Zuck's suggestions, while the overall project was covered with more shrubbery and flora so that "it almost becomes like a hillside, with the landscape really taking the forefront."
As Webb told the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Facebook hopes that the building "doesn't call a lot of attention to themselves." Let's hire the world's flashiest architect to do tech's most self-effacing HQ! Sounds like a plan.
Model images: Gehry Partners LLP via Menlo Park City Council