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Facebook Taps Frank Gehry to Design Entire Hobbit Compound in Menlo Park

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Before Gehry Partners was even finished erecting the Hobbit Supercenter that debuted last week, the social network last summer purchased the 58-acre TE Connectivity campus next door. Now, thanks to some sleuthing at Menlo Park City Hall by the Silicon Valley Business Journal's Nathan Donato-Weinstein, Facebook's plans for the campus are growing clearer. The company's preliminary proposal calls for a major overhaul of the site, with two new buildings totaling 985,000 square feet and a 200-room hotel. Most of all, though, the still-early plans signal Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg's newfound embrace of the Hobbit lifestyle. Frank Gehry is on board to helm the site's revamp, and the new buildings would follow the same pattern as Facebook's just-completed HQ: a landscape architecture sandwich with a soft story of at-grade parking holding up a Middle Earth layer of office space, topped by a bed of greens on the living roof. The buildings will be built in two phases, because second breakfast.
There are currently nine buildings on the TE site, and those would be demolished to make way for Zuck's Hobbit compound, which mortals may come to know as MPK 21 and 22, but which we're assigning codename Guggenheim Bilbo. The two new buildings—plus an existing 180,000-square-footer under renovation—would be connected with bridges, and a five-acre public green would anchor the space between the two new buildings. The company would also build a pedestrian and bike bridge over Highway 84, to connect Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood to the waterfront.

When Facebook purchased the site, the company signed a five-year leaseback with TE for a part of the campus, though the agreement includes a termination clause. If the social network's plans continue apace, the site closest to the existing MPK 20 (Building 21 on the diagram above) would be the first to rise, with 523,226 square feet, followed by Building 22 with 453,417 square feet. The smaller, existing structure with 180,000 square feet is already being renovated.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Zuckerberg praised Gehry's work on the recently opened HQ. "In the end, our building finished ahead of schedule and under budget," Zuckerberg wrote. "It's the only construction project I've ever heard of achieving this. It ended up costing us much less than any other major developments planned in Silicon Valley and taking way less time to build." Mr. Gehry, allow us to read between the lines here for you. Zuck himself may be too shy to ask, but it sounds like your services are sorely needed in Eureka Valley.

· Facebook's New Frank Gehry-Designed Office: High Line or Hobbit Walmart? [Curbed SF]
· Facebook Land Grab [Curbed SF]
· Facebook Goes with Gehry Repeat on Next Proposal for Menlo Park [Silicon Valley Business Journal]
· Mark Zuckerberg's Insane Reno Caught on Google Street View [Curbed SF]