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Facebook wants its new campus to be a mini neighborhood

It's working to entice neighbors with open access, affordable housing and retail space for all.
Rob LeFebvre, @roblef
July 7, 2017
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It's been four years since Facebook got the ok to build a new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and two years since the company moved into the space. Now the company is looking to expand again. Unlike Apple's isolated spaceship campus, however, Facebook's new "Willow Campus" seems to take a cue from Google in offering more public access. The new Menlo Park campus is designed to connect to other people, providing housing, retail and transportation to both the company and its neighbors. The official filing of the plan is set to occur later this month.

Facebook is likely trying to get ahead of public opinion with this new focus on social connection. The Bay Area is known for tech companies driving up the price of housing, clogging up the roadways and shuttling employees around in private shuttles.

"Part of our vision is to create a neighborhood center that provides long-needed community services," wrote the company in a blog post. "We plan to build 125,000 square feet of new retail space, including a grocery store, pharmacy and additional community-facing retail." The company also hopes to contribute to local housing shortages, building 1,500 new units on the Willow Campus, 15 percent of which will rent at "below market rates." Facebook has an existing Catalyst Housing Fund to help provide more affordable housing in the area. ReCode estimates there will be 1.75 million square feet of office space, though it's not clear whether this will be solely for Facebook's use.

Update: A Facebook spokesperson sent Engadget the following specifications about the new Willow Campus plans:

  • 59-acre site
  • 1.75M sq. ft. of office space
  • 1.6 M sq. ft. of residential space
    • 1,500 units of housing,
      • 15% below market rate
  • 125,000 sq. ft. of retail space.
    • Grocery store, pharmacy, hotel, cultural/visitor center, etc.
  • Construction: Multiple phases; 24-months each to complete
    • 1st phase projected to be finished in early 2021.
      • To include retail, housing and office space.
  • The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) to design this new campus.
  • 7 new publicly accessible parks and plazas that range from 1/2 acre and two acres in size.
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