It’s impossible to think of renowned architect Frank Gehry without envisioning the undulating metal shells of the Guggenheim Bilbao, and buildings that look as if they were chopped up and reassembled with super glue. Whereas some may argue architecture’s form must spring solely from its function, Gehry creates massive, unapologetic abstractions for the sake of doing it.
But when Facebook tapped Gehry to design their new campus expansion in Menlo Park—a building for 2,800 engineers, connected to Facebook’s old campus via underground highway tunnel—the result didn’t feature 200-foot metallic curves, but a rooftop garden that ran the building’s expanse, making the entire 420,000-square-foot property look like a simple, elegant city park from above (though it’s not the first time green space has outshined Gehry’s structures).
The building itself is one gigantic room that "somewhat resembles a warehouse," according to Facebook’s Environmental Design Manager Everett Katigbak. It features acres of shared tables, each painstakingly angled by Gehry’s team. Nearby hubs hide meeting rooms and "micro-kitchens," and nooks filled with whiteboards will enable quick brainstorming sessions. This warehouse sits on top the site’s underground parking structure.
Meanwhile, Facebook is planting "a ton of trees" on the grounds, highlighting nature as their plebeian architectural flourish. On one hand, the warehouse’s sharp, zig-zagging walls feel straight out of Gehry’s playbook. On the other, you barely notice his firm’s touch at all, as every man-made component is buried under so much greenery.
"The raw, unfinished look of our buildings means we can construct them quickly and with a big emphasis on being eco-friendly," Katigbak explains in the official announcement. To Facebook, "quickly" means that they plan to break ground in 2013 and "hope for" a relatively short construction period. Now hopefully, Facebook will be smart enough to market the scale models you see here when the project is done. It’d be like the ultimate dollhouse for budding dot com entrepreneurs. I wonder if those tables are large enough to seat my old GI Joes. Cover me, Zuck!