We Don't Know What Facebook Is Unveiling Next Week, But It Could Be Its Big New Campus

Facebook West Campus

Photo: City of Menlo Park

Facebook has announced a surprise media event on January 15 that has everyone guessing.The invitation said simply: “See what we’re building.”

The word “building” made some gadget hounds speculate about hardware. But CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said very clearly that he believes building a phone is the wrong strategy for Facebook.

But we do know one multimillion-dollar object that Facebook is in the process of building.

That’s the new 2,800-person campus across the highway from its current home in Menlo Park. The single-building Campus West isn’t quite on the scale of Apple’s gigantic starship headquarters, but it will be big enough to house most of Facebook’s engineers under one roof.

In September, Facebook began environmental-remediation work on the site—work that should be wrapping up shortly, if it’s not already completed.

And according to the official project timetable, negotiations with the city should wrap up around January 14.

From there, a series of hearings are scheduled for February and March.

We don’t know what to make of the coincidental dates, but it’s certainly interesting. We asked Facebook for updates on the project, but haven’t heard back. Rachel Grossman, an associate planner with the City of Menlo Park, confirmed in a voicemail that the project is on track with the published project schedule.

Here's a perspective view of the new West Campus building.

And here's its location in relation to the current campus.

The timetable for development.

Wait, is there a building here? From this view, you'll barely see it.

The location is across a local highway from the Ravenswood salt ponds, which are part of a wetlands restoration project.

From here, the building is a bit more visible.

A glimpse.

Here's a view from a local neighbourhood.

This plan—the current design concept—is very different from one submitted last October. It could change again before construction starts.

The most obvious feature will be the green roof, planted with trees, grass, and a garden.

The building will be essentially built on stilts over a parking garage. The original design had a five-story parking structure; this one is far less visually intrusive.

This colour-coded map tells you the most about Facebook's plans for employees. There's a looping racetrack designed to maximise interaction. The space will be open, but not overwhelming in scale.

Here's a closer look. In green are five cafeterias, one large, four smaller. Microkitchens are scattered throughout. The conference rooms are in orange. Yellow rooms are everything from mothers' rooms to IT help centres to shipping and copy facilities.

The green roof looks like it might be expensive, but it will actually save on heating and cooling costs. There's also a large roof plaza.

This cross section gives you an idea of the scale.

The roof shifts from flat to peaked—but again, this is not the final design. Gehry may have more surprises up his sleeve. And city officials may require changes.

This gives you an idea of how the new campus relates to the current one.

Facebook is hoping employees will walk or use bikes. There will also be a shuttle.

West Campus and East Campus will connect via a tunnel—bikes, pedestrians, and shuttles only.

Here's how the tunnel will operate.

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