Formerly a lab facility for Agilent Technologies, a manufacturer of high-tech measurement devices, the building into which Facebook moved in 2009 became a lab of a different sort—for measuring the intangibles of social interaction. Key to O+A’s design development was gathering input from the users. “Some companies ask you to take a space and transform it for them,” O+A Principal Primo Orpilla said. “Facebook wanted a hand in the process.”
In the development stage, O+A designers interviewed Facebook employees about what they wanted from their new HQ and attended weekly Advisory Board meetings. Prominent among the themes that emerged: sustainability and green design. The new headquarters made extensive use of existing architectural features, recycled millwork from the original lab and repurposed industrial components for post-industrial use. The green theme extended from floor (carpets with high-recycle content) to ceiling (energy efficient lighting).
Another theme: neighborhoods. Because Facebook’s employees converged on the new space from10 separate locations, the company wanted to maintain each division’s distinct identity. O+A’s design used color and interior spacing to map out “neighborhoods” in the complex, while providing areas for the entire community to come together. A state of the art kitchen and café continued Facebook’s much-loved tradition of providing gourmet meals to staff on a virtually round-the-clock basis.
And a final theme: fun. This is, after all, Facebook. One example is “the crane table,” a piece of conference furniture created by San Francisco sculptor Oliver DiCicco from an old Agilent industrial crane. A table surface suspended from a heavyweight hoist, it offered maximum maneuverability, but its primary appeal was best summed up by one of O+A’s designers: “It looks cool and it swings.”