Falling stock value isn’t slowing Facebook down. The social networking behemoth is moving forward with its headquarters expansion designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Construction on the project will kick off next spring and will include a large bridge that connects it to Facebook East, the company’s current facility at the edge of San Francisco Bay in Menlo Park, California.
The new building will essentially be one large room, about 10 acres in size (420,000 square feet). Two-wheeled RipStiks will be used to help employees get from one end of the building to the other.
Mark Zuckerberg, the 28-year-old co-founder of Facebook, collaborated closely with Gehry and insisted on open spaces. He wanted to remove any impediments to face-to-face interaction. Skylights and clerestories abound to shower the the expansive space with daylight.
“Mark said he wanted to be in the same room with all his engineers,” said Gehry in an interview with Bloomberg. “I told him we could put the building up on stilts, park cars underneath and create a room as large as he wanted.”
Facebook West will fit the typical campus layout, complete with outdoor-terraced cafes serving sushi and barbecue.
What’s absent in new expansion is fluttering reflective metal covering every inch of the campus. Zuckerberg chose Gehry not for his bold styling of the The Walt Disney Concert Hall or Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, but for his use of more conventional materials to inspire anti-hierarchy, free- form collaborative work. After all, Gehry has built furniture out of cardboard and covered his own house in chain-link fencing.
The new expansion is slated to open in spring 2015 and will provide Facebook and its employees a blank canvas of sorts. It will be a place to meet, think, and inspire ideas that will ultimately change the way we all interact online.
“We’ve got to give them a system that’s not precious, that they can manipulate,” added Gehry. “We want it to work effortlessly.” It’s architecture that won’t preen, he promises. “My goal is a kind of ephemeral connectivity that you can’t take a picture of.”