Facebook’s Menlo Park HQ is sending employees outside.

Facebook Menlo Park HQ Town Square

The Town Square incorporates a redwood tree forest. [Photo: Courtesy of Facebook]

Imagine working among redwood trees, sitting in the breeze with the sun overhead, the soothing sounds of birds and life around you. Imagine holding office meetings and brainstorming sessions immersed in greenery. If you work at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California headquarters, you don’t have to imagine it. You can just do it.

Completed in late 2018, the new additions to the Menlo Park headquarters involved bringing the outdoors into the office space and vice versa. Employees can bring their work outdoors to The Bowl, an amphitheater-style courtyard, or hold a lunch meeting in the Town Square, a sheltered green space filled with 40-foot-tall redwood trees.

“At Facebook, we want people to do some of the best work of their careers,” says Kyle Gerstenschlager, a spokesperson for the social media giant. “They have the incredible opportunity to build community for the 2.7 billion people around the world who use our platform and products. We help them achieve our mission by providing functional office spaces and caring for our people.”

Facebook Menlo Park HQ the Bowl

The Bowl connects Building 20 with 21 in what is considered a botanical garden of sorts. The roof of Building 20 features 400 trees and a halfmile walking loop. [Photo: Courtesy of Facebook]

Project: Facebook Menlo Park HQ
Location: Menlo Park, California
Completion: 2018
Size: 525,236 square feet
Architect: Gehry Partners
Landscape Architect: CMG Landscape Architecture
Structural Engineering: Forell/Elsesser Engineers
Contractor: Level 10 Construction

Sustainable & Functional

The new building, called MPK 21, was designed by architect Frank Gehry and completed in less than 18 months. The highly sustainable structure, built to achieve LEED Platinum status, features a 3.6-acre rooftop garden with more than 200 trees and a half-mile path so employees can take walks to unwind. “Twenty-one is this natural evolution of how we operate and how we behave and how we move inside our buildings,” says John Tenanes, vice president of global facilities and real estate, in a video released by Facebook. “We created a building that is very sustainable and very functional, almost like it was designed from the inside out.”

Including elements of the outdoors was a priority when designing MPK 21, Gerstenschlager says. “The Bowl is a very popular space at Facebook,” he says. “You can find people there throughout the day coming together as a community.” The Bowl connects Building 20, also designed by Gehry, with 21 in what Tenanes describes as a botanical garden of sorts.

To further the headquarters’ natural feel, rooflines of Building 21 were updated to allow more daylight to flood into the space. More green space was added at the office level to make nature even more accessible to employees, and fritted windows went in to protect birds. A reclaimed water system, designed to save an estimated 17 million gallons annually, was installed. And a 1.4-megawatt photovoltaic solar panel system on the roof and carports now supplies solar power to the structure.

Facebook Menlo Park HQ exterior night

Facebook Menlo Park HQ interior

[Photos: Courtesy of Facebook]

Connecting with Community

When designing the headquarters, which sits on a former unoccupied industrial site, Facebook was careful to not forget who they are as a company—creators of community. “We want to make sure we are giving back in ways that are important to our neighbors,” says Janelle Gale, vice president of human resources, in a video released by Facebook.

A pedestrian and bike bridge over the Bayfront Expressway, connecting the neighborhood and the Facebook campus alike to trails and parks along the San Francisco Bay, is expected to be completed in 2019. A two-acre public park and community event space are also under construction, further connecting Facebook to the local community. “I feel like we are not turning our back on the neighborhood,” Gehry says in the video. “It feels like (the headquarters) belongs here.”

Facebook Menlo Park HQ aerial

[Photo: Courtesy of Facebook]