ULI San Francisco Blog

ULI San Francisco Tours Facebook Campus

Facebook made 127 more friends at ULI on March 28 when it opened up for an exclusive tour of its new headquarters in Menlo Park. In the seven years since its founding in a dorm room, Facebook Inc. has now graduated into its very own campus after a series of leases and moves in Palo Alto. The 57-acre, one-million-square-feet former Sun Microsystems facility near the foot of the Dumbarton Bridge is now the East Campus for Facebook, which is leasing it from RREEF. Facebook also purchased from General Motors a 22-acre site, located across Bayfront Expressway, that will be its future West Campus.

The ULI Tour started with a presentation from Justin Gurvitz, Facebook’s in-house real estate counsel; Tim Tosta of MLA, attorney representing Facebook; Mayor Kirsten Keith of Menlo Park; Alex McIntyre and Justin Murphy, Menlo Park staff; and Facebook’s design team from Gensler and CMG. Mayor Keith emphasized cooperation with Facebook and expressed excitement for the new campus, the expansion of which is pending approval from the City of Menlo Park.

In advance of developing the West Campus, Facebook is in the midst of transforming the East Campus, originally designed for 3,600 employees, to eventually house 6,600 Facebook employees. To do this, Facebook is implementing a very aggressive transportation demand management program to ensure there would be no more than 15,000 daily vehicle trips, with a goal to reduce single-occupant vehicle trips to less than fifty percent. Aside from a very generous commuter bus, shuttle and van pool that reaches up and down the Peninsula and beyond, the East Campus is designed to encourage walking and biking. The buildings are arranged along a main outdoor walkway lined with ground-level cafes, restaurants with table service, cafeterias, leisure spaces, IT support, and other amenities that are almost all free, to simulate an interactive urban environment that might be found in Palo Alto and San Francisco, where the majority of employees live. Gensler’s Scott Dunlap explained that the key concept is “connectivity.” At 150 square feet per employee, other key design concepts would appear to be flexibility and productivity. Facebook also embraces sustainability, as evidenced by LEED certification, solar panels and co-generation, recycled materials, native vegetation, and employee-initiated, technology-oriented community volunteering efforts.

A campus tour followed the presentation. Suit-clad ULI members stood out from Facebook employees, whose average age is between 25 and 30 years. The start-up atmosphere that Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to maintain is visible in the stripped-down spaces that are often covered by murals, handwriting, electronic boards, and blank spaces ready for spontaneous artwork. The Facebook logo and blue color are conspicuously absent to avoid the appearance of a corporate environment. The mantra here is that the “journey is only 1% done.” The office setting is dominated by small work stations and shared conference rooms, some of which are expectedly wired with the latest multimedia technology. Even CEO Zuckerberg shares in the use of these egalitarian work stations, though with an added personal conference room.

The future West Campus, which will be connected through an underground tunnel and people mover, promises to be as exciting and innovative as the East Campus. Surely many ULI members are already eager for another exclusive tour once it is completed.

ULIsf Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulisf/sets/72157629339111048/.

Authored By: Steven Huang, Universal Paragon Corporation

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