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Facebook’s new headquarters by Frank Gehry (Image via wired.com)

A powerful company deserves a powerful building for its headquarters — Apple is getting a UFO-style office building from Foster + Partners in Cupertino, after all. So Facebook has decided to ask none other than Frank Gehry to design their new space in Menlo Park, California.

Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed headquarters (Image via archinect.com)

Sprawling across 433,555 square feet, the new headquarters will be the largest open office in the world: the floor plan is based on the idea of one enormous warehouse space, with flexible desk modules that break apart and reform on a project-to-project basis. The rectangular building takes a shambling, snake-like form in its floor plan — it stays low to the ground, with a sectioned green roof.

In fact, Facebook wants its new offices to blend into the landscape, so much so that they asked Gehry to tone down some of the trademark flourishes he designed for the headquarters, according to Wired. Mark Zuckerberg requested that the architect remove flaring building ends. The extra decoration went against “the culture of Facebook,” Gehry partner Craig Webb said.

That aesthetic argument is interesting — Facebook doesn’t exactly reinforce any kind of anonymity through its website; rather, it encourages us to use our real identities and spread our tastes and beliefs as far as possible, as fast as possible. Given that tendency, the individualistic impresario Gehry is an apt choice. So why limit the building’s audacity?

Facebook’s Gehry-designed headquarters (Image via wired.com)

In Wired, Ryan Tate compares the (only relatively) nondescript office building as an echo of Zuckerberg’s iconic hoodie: “an unassuming wrapper around a remarkably capable entity.” It’s true that the Facebook design is functional on a fundamental level, without frills or extraneous gestures. But toning down the architecture may have also smoothed the process for the city granting it approval: It was just accepted, with a 4-0 vote from Menlo Park’s city council.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

5 replies on “Frank Gehry’s Flourishes too Flashy for Facebook”

  1. Architecture that proclaims “We’re positively not doing anything nefarious with your personal information. Carry on!”

  2. This is much more like the Gehry of 20 years ago– sans giant budgets– no titanium or aircraft program determined forms. Very inventive and strangely (literally?) down to earth– I find it quite beautiful as a building regardless of your opinions of Facebook.

  3. Norman Foster’s Apple building is $2 Billion over budget and extremely dull but of course Gehry is the one the internet craps on. Figures.

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