Gardens and Redwoods and Solar Panels, Oh My! New Facebook Office Expansion Dazzles

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gardenIn the world of extra, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are regular visitors. Their most recent project was an expansion of their already sprawling Menlo Park West Campus. In 2015 they designed an office space, if we can even call it that, called MPK 20, led by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. In Facebook’s latest effort to cut down their carbon footprint and further connect their campus, they conceptualized MPK 21.

 

A bird’s eye view shows the difference between the two buildings. MPK 20 resembles, at least on the outside, a more traditional office concept. At least as traditional as Facebook will allow. MPK 21 is anything but. Again in charge of design and build out, Frank Gehry and his company recently completed another architectural wonder that Facebook is using to promote their culture. Behold MPK 21.

 

“There is a sense of energy and connection in this building, and you see people collaborating. That is the signal we want to send recruits. We want them to get a feel for how work is done here,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of real estate and global facilities.

 

How is MPK 21 achieving that? Let’s step inside and take a look.

 

In 2016 alone, $74.24 billion was invested into commercial real estate, a number that’s only rising with the magnanimous tastes of the Silicon Valley elite. They certainly spared no expense on MPK 21. The $300 million project was just one of several construction permits requested for the expansion of Facebook’s West Campus. But, MPK 21 is more unique than the other more buttoned-up architectural pursuits.

 

Last year, the U.S. garden market was worth nearly $272 billion. Naturally, Zuck and friends wanted to up the ante on the greenery in MPK 21. The “building” is almost completely open air, with massive Redwood trees towering above the 24-acre space. MPK 20 featured rooftops gardens, so MPK 21 takes it a step further by making the whole space a part of nature that promotes a balanced human-to-nature ecosystem. Of course, the goal is to mirror the social ecosystem Facebook aims to promote.

 

“We have town squares in this building; we brought the landscaping down to the office level, so if you are in an office, you get to look at these outdoor squares in the core of the building,” said Tenanes.

 

With their 3.6-acre rooftop garden that features a half-mile path and more than 200 trees, we think they’re on the right path (literally). And they’re not just in it for the faux-nature-loving, feel-good vibe that baby boomers grumble about millennials loving, they’re aiming to make a contribution to help curb climate change. Lighting accounts for 18% of energy use in commercial buildings and 11% in residential buildings, bills that would be pretty high with Facebook’s professional cohort. MPK 21’s roof is taking care of that with photovoltaic solar panels that will generate an estimated 2 million kilowatt hours of electricity every year. Literally using the sun for lighting, one could say it is truly lit.

 

MPK 21 puts a whole new vibe into Facebook’s West Campus. Plus, they mean business with the space having connected offices that accommodate 2,900 employees and an events center that can seat 2,000 people.

 

“A single pathway runs the length of the building. Along this path are five unique dining options, 15 art installations commissioned through our artist-in-residence Program and a 2,000-person event and meeting space with state-of-the-art A/V technology. The building was designed to promote teamwork and allow our people to do their best work,” said Tenanes.

 

Facebook may be bogged down with bad press lately, but maybe this new office will solidify the fact that they can keep their workspaces open, but not their user data. Only time will tell.

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