Analysis of building permits shows Facebook has filed $900M+ in construction permits for West Campus building projects, mostly used for office space, since 2015 (Kelsey Graeber/BuildZoom)

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Since the grand opening of the Gehry-designed building named ‘MPK 20’ and de facto launch of Facebook’s West Campus in March 2015, Facebook has filed more than $900 million in construction permits for projects in and around their West Campus in Menlo Park (‘MPK’), totaling over $1 billion including MPK 20. Two of the new Gehry-designed buildings have surpassed MPK 20 as having the most expensive permits filed in Menlo Park in recent history, valued at $303M and $300M respectively. Using BuildZoom’s National Building Permit Database, we explored Facebook’s recent westward expansion in terms of costs and square footage, interesting architectural features, and other key details about the burgeoning West Campus and surrounding areas.

Background

The grand opening of Frank Gehry-designed ‘MPK 20’ in March of 2015 was a milestone for Facebook, as it marked the launch of their West Campus and added 433K square feet to their Menlo Park footprint, previously concentrated at the 1M+ square feet at the 1 Hacker Way headquarters. When we first explored Facebook’s new West Campus in May of 2016, we reported that Facebook spent $177 million on a permit for MPK 20, then the largest permit ever filed in Menlo Park’s recent history. Since then, Facebook has filed more than $900 million dollars in construction permits for projects within and around West Campus. Two of the permits, valued at $303M and $300M, set a new record as Menlo Park’s top-two most expensive permits filed as far back as we can see. Together with MPK 20 and the new additions, Facebook has filed more than $1 billion in permits for their West Campus.

The success of Gehry’s MPK 20 has activated a new wave of nearby projects in the same style as the original. Facebook has lined up more than $750 million in construction to develop the following properties between MPK 20 and Chilco Street to the west. Highlights include:

  • MPK 21, a Gehry-designed extension of MPK 20 ($300M)
  • MPK 22, a Gehry-designed four-story office building ($303M)
  • An 8-story parking structure ($73M)
  • MPK 23, a renovated warehouse (permitted in 2015, $27.3M)
  • An elaborate sky-bridge to connect MPK 21 to MPK 22 and traverse Bayfront Expressway for marshfront access

Even further west past Chilco Street, Facebook has snapped up additional office space and has agreed to lease all three office buildings within the new Menlo Gateway development off Marsh Road. The below map outlines Facebook’s current and proposed West Campus footprint.

Note: Valuation of Menlo Gateway superstructure construction excluded in calculating $1B figure. Balance of valuation from Jefferson Drive properties.

West Campus Additions

MPK 21

In 2017, permits valued at over $300 million were issued to develop Gehry-designed MPK 21. Like MPK 20, MPK 21 features a giant single-level office atop an at-grade parking area. The two-story structure contains 523K square feet of space, and is expected to be completed in 2018. The structure is larger in size than MPK 20 by 90K square feet and will contain the trademark green roof, as well as a reported 2,000 seat event space. Beneath the office level of MPK 21, there are 1495 parking spaces for employees who aren’t hip to the Facebook bus service.

MPK 22 and Parking Garage

 In September 2014, Facebook purchased the TE Connectivity campus at 300 Constitution Drive, just west of MPK 20, for $101.6 million. This purchase included ten existing buildings and contained a clause to allow TE Connectivity to lease most of the offices until 2017, at which Facebook was free to move forward with demolishing the existing buildings to erect MPK 22. One exception was made for the existing building at 305 Constitution, which will be leased by TE Connectivity until 2019 or 2022. To accommodate the extended lease agreement, Gehry’s firm overhauled their plans for MPK 22, initially designed to be a continuation of the 2-level structures at MPK 20 and MPK 21, and designed a unique four-story structure. Once vacated, 305 Constitution will be demolished and replaced with charging stations and open space area, as rendered below. 

Source: Facebook Campus Expansion Architectural Plans by Gehry PartnersSource: Gehry Partners

MPK 22 contain 461K square feet of office and rooftop space, and will feature Frank Gehry’s signature deconstructionist mesh material encapsulating architectural features on the roof and balconies. The largest permit to date for the building was valued at $303 million, though the final cost will likely exceed this estimation. The core of the structure will contain an atrium that runs the entire length of the building, flanked by conference rooms and open office spaces, bringing the outdoors inside. With research showing that this can double the productivity of workers, Zuckerberg has a good reason to invest in greener digs for his 25K+ employees. The addition of eight enclosed terraces also introduce green spaces that serve as the entry points for the building.

Linking MPK 21 to MPK 22 is a controversial yellow pedestrian sky-bridge that will twist and turn at odd angles to connect the buildings and provide access to the marsh-side paths of Bayfront Expressway, as pictured below. Critics suggest that the angles create an inefficient and possibly dangerous situation for the cyclists and pedestrians, though it does have that signature ‘Gehry deconstructionist’ element. 

Source: Facebook Campus Expansion Architectural Plans by Gehry PartnersSource: Gehry Partners

The garage, designed by Watry Design, Inc., has an associated permit valued at $73 million. It will rise seven floors (72’) above ground level with one level of partially-subterranean parking. The garage will have enough stalls for 1,740 cars. It appears there will be four bridges linking each floor of MPK 22 to the corresponding floor of the parking garage. MPK 22 will stand 87 feet next to the adjacent 72 foot parking garage.

Model of MPK 22 (white) and Bridge, Source: Gehry Partners

MPK 23

In addition to the new superstructures MPK 21, MPK 22, and the garage, Facebook previously worked with Gehry to transform the existing 180K square foot warehouse located at 300 Constitution Drive into office space. MPK 23, as it’s dubbed, underwent a massive renovation in 2015 wherein the exterior walls and foundation were kept intact, but more than $27.3 million was permitted for upgrades to the superstructure to raise the roof and create an open floor plan.

Proposed Hotel

In 2016, Menlo Park City Counsel published and approved a Term Sheet which detailed plans for a 200-unit, 174.8K square feet hotel to be located at the corner of Chilco and Bayfront. Though Facebook has thus far been reticent about their plans here, previous reports estimate that the hotel will likely proceed with the demolition of 305 Constitution.

Additional West Campus Features

Security

Facebook has applied for more than $18 million in permits to develop security measures to support MPK 22 and nearby facilities. Provisions include crash-cable fencing, bollards, and strategic landscaping to accommodate security needs. They have also planned a total of seven new guard shacks for the area between MPK 21 and Chilco Street.

Decorative Drones

Facebook also spent $20k in 2017 to hang an inoperable drone inside of 1 Facebook Way. We’re unsure exactly what this is about, but have a hunch it may be related to Zuckerberg’s ambitious Aquila project, an internet-delivery drone with a wingspan of a Boeing 737 and a weight less than 1000 lbs.

PV Power

The 1 Facebook Way address is associated with more than $5 million in spending on solar PV systems for their rooftop.

Aerial View West CampusSource: Gehry Partners

Moving Westward

MPK 24 – 29 

Venturing even further west past Chilco Street, which represents the westward boundary of the Gehry-built additions, Facebook has also purchased and leased hundreds of thousands of square feet of existing office space around the business park at Jefferson and Constitution Drive. MPK 24 – 29 represents the six Facebook-occupied office buildings, as pictured in the above map.

According to recent filings since early 2017, more than $100 million in permits have been pulled in piece-meal tenant improvements and landscaping changes to transform existing warehouses, laboratories, and commercial properties into office space. Counting the West Campus and Menlo Gateway expenditures, these valuations comprise the balance of Facebook’s $1B construction estimate. While some of these properties have been Facebook-occupied for years, two such selected projects have been added since January 2017:

MPK 27

Permits valued at $48 million were issued in December of 2017 to turn the existing lab building at 220 Jefferson Drive, once occupied by Oracle, into 102K square feet of office space.

MPK 28

Permits valued at $36 million were issued in July 2017 for “99,789 square feet commercial tenant improvement to floors one, two and three only of an existing four story office building” at 164 Jefferson Drive. An additional $12 million was filed for fourth floor tenant improvements and site work.

Menlo Gateway Development

Menlo Gateway

According to developers at the Bohannon Company, Facebook has agreed to fully lease all three office buildings under development at the large-scale mixed-use project east of Marsh Road between Bayfront and Bayshore. According to permits filed for the project, the three offices are planned for 125 Constitution Drive, 135 Constitution Drive, and 100 Independence Drive. This will add 650K square feet of leased office space to Facebook’s expanding footprint. Though more than $100 million in permits have been filed for the Menlo Gateway office projects, Facebook is only responsible for the costs of the tenant improvements. So far, one $31.3 million permit was filed in August 2017 for 204K square feet of tenant improvements across all eight floors of the 100 Independence Drive office.  Stay tuned for tenant improvements to the 125 and 135 Constitution buildings!

Menlo Gateway DevelopmentSource: Newmark Cornish & Carey


Notes:

  1. Though still in the planning stages, Facebook is also developing the ‘Willow Village’ just south of their 1 Hacker Way headquarters. This campus will occupy 49 acres and add commercial, retail, and residential space to Facebook’s roster of Menlo Park developments. We plan to cover this project at a later stage, once the permits have been filed.
  2. Building permit valuations do not represent the actual cost of construction, and often fall below the true cost.  They are meant to supplement our understanding, not to tell the whole story.
  3. The valuations for the development of the Menlo Gateway offices are excluded from our estimation of Facebook’s West Campus (and surrounding) expenditures. Only the valuation of the tenant improvement has been included to fit out Facebook’s offices within the building.
  4. Underlying street map graphics from Open Street Maps.

Having grown up in Los Angeles and studied in New York, Kelsey is fascinated by how the built environment shapes our understanding of people, culture, and well-being. Her work is at the intersection of design, research, and marketing. She enjoys traveling, reading, and eating food that requires chopsticks.


This post was originally published here