In the Facebook session yesterday I had the opportunity to hear the story behind the transformation of the Palo Alto Sun Microsystems campus into the current Facebook campus.
Frank Gehry called personally offering to design the campus to house 6,000 staff. It’s 4 city blocks in size, Gensler designed, based on recreating downtown Palo Alto in an unpopular industrial area.
Called the ‘big room’, the campus is totally open plan, with a green roof and extensive landscaping. Supporting a culture of ‘walk and talk’ is core to the design. They also have a BBQ shack, graffiti wall, barbers and dry cleaners, a road running through the spine and even a full scale garden incorporated onto a mezzanine level.
The design is remarkably functional; no curves or twists, no fuss, just a direct response to Facebook’s needs.
They use an awesomeness survey to gauge employee satisfaction. Real estate success is measured this way, they don’t do ‘metrics’