Apple is paired with Foster + Partners, Google with BIG and Thomas Heatherwick, and Facebook's architect of choice is Frank Gehry. The social media giant recently commissioned the starchitect to expand its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The new building, named MPK 21, was completed in just 18 months and includes significant sustainable features.
MPK 21 is based on what was formerly an unoccupied industrial site, and is topped by a 3.6 acre (1.45 hectare) rooftop garden that contains over 200 trees and a 0.5-mile (0.8 km)-long path. A large sheltered green space called The Town Square offers a pleasant outdoor place to work, and an amphitheater-like courtyard called The Bowl connects MPK 21 with Facebook's other building, the adjacent Gehry-designed MPK 20.
The interior decor is relatively utilitarian and makes use of plywood and exposed fixtures. Its layout is flexible and offers both collaborative office spaces and private offices. One long hallway runs the entire length of the building and there are five dining areas, 15 art installations, and a large 2,000 capacity event and meeting space.
MK 21 is expected to achieve LEED Platinum certification (a green building standard), and includes a water recycling system that, according to Facebook, will save approximately 17 million gallons (64,350,000 liters) of water per year. A 1.4 MW rooftop photovoltaic array will reduce grid-based electricity needs by nearly 2 million kWh annually, and its expansive "bird-friendly" glazing promises to maximize views and natural light without decimating the local avian population.
In the future, Facebook also aims to complete a nearby park with public plaza and mobile farmers' market, as well as a bike and pedestrian bridge connecting the campus to the surrounding area.
"I'm proud of it and they're proud of it, that's pretty good," says the famously irascible Gehry. "I love being an architect, it's a pain in the ass sometimes, but every once in a while you meet clients like Facebook and great things happen."
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