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Frank Gehry Is Designing Facebook's New Office Building and That's Sad

Illustration for article titled Frank Gehry Is Designing Facebooks New Office Building and Thats Sad

Frank Gehry, the genius architect who designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall or the curve perverted one-trick pony who litters beautiful cities with Toontown buildings because he can't draw a straight line anymore (depending on your perspective), is going to be designing Facebook's new engineering office building. You don't even need to know architecture to know Gehry, he's an icon. This is a good thing because it proves Facebook has taste. But a horrible thing because its taste is so generically terrible.

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Look, having Gehry design your building isn't the worst thing in the world. He's done some great work, he's one of the most famous architects ever and people really "like" his stuff. Screw the vanilla boxes! Let's live in a world on mushrooms. But just because someone with a big name decides to design deranged buildings inspired by the aftermath of a Michael Bay movie, it doesn't mean you have to like them. Or that they're any good:

Illustration for article titled Frank Gehry Is Designing Facebooks New Office Building and Thats Sad
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Saying Gehry designs "awesome" buildings is easy. His designs are so different (from the norm, not each other) that they force you to comment. But the young and scrappy Facebook—the one who gave David Choe FB stock for tagging up its walls—probably wouldn't have done this (they couldn't have afforded it, first of all) because it's just so damn typical of a big public company trying to fake cool. Asking Gehry to design their latest building is the classic no-taste-masked-as-taste move. A bunch of engineers thinking they're cool for working inside a Gehry building is a joke that writes itself.

Luckily, the building doesn't suck. At least not yet. Here's what the building looks like:

Illustration for article titled Frank Gehry Is Designing Facebooks New Office Building and Thats Sad

In the middle of Menlo Park, where Gehry doesn't exactly have to tango with historic buildings and mind a cityscape, it doesn't look half bad. It looks carefully restrained and not like steel and glass vomit. Trees on the roof! So green! Here's what Facebook has to say:

It will be a large, one room building that somewhat resembles a warehouse. Just like we do now, everyone will sit out in the open with desks that can be quickly shuffled around as teams form and break apart around projects. There will be cafes and lots of micro-kitchens with snacks so that you never have to go hungry. And we'll fill the building with break-away spaces with couches and whiteboards to make getting away from your desk easy.

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Not sure you needed Gehry for that. [Facebook via TechCrunch]

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DISCUSSION

coryhauptman
Cory Hauptman

I only respect Gehry because of the Bilbao Guggenheim. At that time the aesthetic was a complete departure from anything he had done previously. Unfortunately as with many architects once they find their "signature style" then they run it into the ground via repetition. That's not to say that Gehry isn't masterful at shaping form and space, and while I've never been to the Disney Concert Hall, I've heard the acoustics in there are spectacular. But to any passerby on the street if shown a picture of Bilbao and Disney side by side probably couldn't tell them apart. As for the design of this particular building it is quite restrained for Gehry's style as you point out, though with the appearance that the building is supposed have a focus on sustainability (or just a landscaped roof) I personally would have gone the Norman Foster or William Mcdonough route if thats the case. However and not to belabor the point, part of picking an architect for a company as renown (for dropping share prices?) as Facebook is making sure their architect has name recognition... which suffice it to say Gehry has is droves. And as a little disclaimer it pains me to defend Gehry he doesn't even make it into my top ten favorite architects, Santiago Calatrava has the number 1 spot... If Facebook had chose him, that would have made for quite an interesting building!