“Congratulations. Where’s the like button?” With those words, Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki highlighted the City Council’s 4-0 vote to approve Facebook’s West Campus expansion, located across the Bayfront Expressway from the social network’s current headquarters.
West Campus, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, features a long, 433,555-square-foot building with a surface-level parking lot, reaching 73 feet high at some points but mostly about 45 feet high, Menlo Park Associate Planner Rachel Grossman said, as reported by the Palo Alto Daily News.
Some changes were made to Gehry’s original plans for Facebook’s West Campus, with his creative partner, Craig Webb, telling the City Council, as reported by the Daily News:
They felt some of those things were too flashy and not in keeping with the kind of the culture of Facebook, so they asked us to make it more anonymous. Frank was quite willing to tone down some of the expression of architecture in the building. Our intent is that it almost becomes like a hillside, with the landscape really taking the forefront.
Prior to the vote, members of the City Council indicated that they were excited about the project, according to the Daily News, with Kirsten Keith saying, “I feel very lucky that we’ll have a Frank Gehry building here,” and Rich Cline saying that he was impressed that oak trees would be part of the rooftop park.
Facebook had to agree to several concessions in order to win approval from Menlo Park, including:
- Building 15 low-cost homes or contributing $4.5 million toward affordable housing.
- Paying the city $1.5 million over a 10-year period.
- Adding $100,000 for local improvements.
- Restricting the number of vehicles that can enter and leave the new campus.
- Paying at least $194,000 per year in property taxes.
- Creating a $500,000 charitable foundation.
- Setting up a job-training program.
- Helping to fill Menlo Park’s gap in the region’s Bay Trail project.
- Establishing a local environmental education program.
- Making a onetime payment of $350,000 to the neighboring city of Atherton as compensation for the increased traffic at the intersection of Marsh and Middlefield roads, located about five miles from the social network’s headquarters.
- Cleaning up soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other toxic chemicals.
Readers: Are you anxious to see how Facebook’s West Campus turns out?