Social media giant Facebook first entered Seattle in 2010 – the year Amazon first moved into South Lake Union – with just three engineers. As the surrounding tech sector grows, so does Facebook’s interest in Seattle.
In May 2016, the 1,000 employees were expanded into an open office designed by Frank Gehry at Dexter. Since then, the number of employees in Seattle has doubled. With more than 2,000 employees in the city, Seattle has more Facebook engineers than anywhere outside of Menlo Park’s headquarters (though it first hit that milestone in 2015 with just 500).
So Facebook has set its sights on another property in South Lake Union, the six-story, 150,000-square-foot 1101 Westlake building, which can accommodate around 900 additional employees. This time the design goes to Studios Architecture.
It should come as no great surprise that, as has been the case with technology for some time, it is an open office that, according to Facebook, “enables our teams to be cooperative and transparent”. Design also plays a role – it’s not just not walled-in work areas, but also open stairs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and even semi-private rooms that flow into the rest of the office through large glass doors.
While the space all “open” has in common, there are some different vibes of open space: some are more social spaces with tables or cubicles, and while a library offers a different feel for small meetings. While employees have dedicated workstations, they can visit these different areas if they need a change of scene.
In total, the office has 47 day offices and more than 30 conference rooms as well as additional, more comfortable work areas, training rooms and more informal meeting rooms.
The building’s colorful art installations are from local artists: Maria Sivak, Mary Iverson, Robert Hardgrave, Joey Veltkamp, Jesse LeDoux, Urban Artworks with Brian Sanchez, Shaun Kardinal, Ellen Lesperance and Kate Sweeney.
And, as is customary in South Lake Union, the building has amenities such as a bicycle repair shop on the ground floor and a 96-place bicycle cage inside. A transit center offers employees route advice and travel planning as well as “end-of-trip facilities” such as showers and a “special drying room”. The Westlake Cafe operates a coffee shop in the building.
Facebook seems to be growing in Seattle as the city turns into a technology hub. In addition to the engineering team in Seattle, Facebook, together with Google and Huawei, also finances the Reality Lab at the University of Washington. It also joined the City of Seattle’s Digital Equity Initiative. (Another way Facebook interacts with Seattle, though not directly related to the localization here: it recently received a very hands-on lesson on Seattle suffrage.)
The employees moved into the facility at the end of February.