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May 17, 2016

Facebook shows off Frank Gehry design for its new offices in SLU

Journal Staff Reporter

Photos courtesy of Facebook [enlarge]
A staircase winds through the center of Facebook’s Dexter Station office, and draws comparisons from employees to the moving staircases at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books.

The Seattle office space that Frank Gehry created for Facebook is open but unfinished, and that's partially by design.

Construction continues on Facebook's space in Dexter Station, at 1101 Dexter Ave. N., though employees started moving there a week ago. Some spaces will be finished but others will remain a little rough around the edges, with elements like cement floors, unfinished plywood panels in meeting rooms and exposed ceilings.

“It reminds us that our journey as a company is only partially finished,” said Eva Skone, Facebook's lead for culture, communications and events, as she led a media tour of the space Monday.

Skone said in the five years she has been with Facebook she has seen the Seattle operation grow from a small office near Pike Place Market, to larger space in Metropolitan Park, and now to this new office in Dexter Station.

The Seattle office is the Menlo Park, California, company's second biggest, with more than 1,000 employees and room for up to 2,000.

The rooftop deck has lush landscaping, seating and a fire pit.

Facebook staff has moved into floors five through eight. Eventually the company will occupy all 10 floors.

Facebook has finished floors five through eight in Dexter Station. Within a year, it will occupy all 10 floors of the 335,000-square-foot office building developed by Capstone Partners.

Venture General Contracting built Facebook's space, Berger Partnership is the landscape architect, and Magnusson Klemencic Associates and Coughlin Porter Lundeen are the structural engineers. LMN Architects designed Dexter Station, and JTM Construction is the general contractor.

Facebook wanted a space that would foster collaboration. No one, executives included, has a private office.

An open, central staircase connects floors five through eight and lets people see what's happening on other floors. Facebook built skybridges between buildings at its headquarters in Menlo Park to make it quick and easy for people to get around.

“The more you physically give people space to bump into each other, the more likely you are to increase collaboration,” said Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer for Facebook.

The office has meeting rooms with whiteboard walls and video conference technology. Clusters of rooms share a common theme like Seattle neighborhoods, popular local bars such as the Crocodile, or important principles (Fibonacci numbers and Occam's razor).

Employees have the option of working at their desks or in some of the office's unique work spaces. There is a soundproof room where people can play music and a hot tub filled with balls (not water) next to a large window overlooking Lake Union.

Vending machines are scattered throughout the space but they aren't stocked with candy or snacks. They have keyboards, phone chargers, headphones, batteries and other techie gear.

The Seattle team's projects have included video calling through Facebook Messenger and a cold storage system for photos and video. The team also works on analytics for apps, sharing, games, login, account kits and plugins.

“Seattle is a key part of our long-term mission to connect the world,” Schroepfer said.

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