Social media giant Facebook first set foot in Seattle in 2010—the year Amazon first moved into South Lake Union—with just three engineers. But as the surrounding tech sector has grown, so has Facebook’s interest in Seattle.
In May of 2016, its 1,000 employees expanded into a Frank Gehry-designed open office on Dexter, and since then, its Seattle employee count has doubled. Now with more than 2,000 employees in the city, Seattle has more Facebook engineers than anywhere outside of its Menlo Park headquarters (although it first hit that milestone in 2015 with just 500).
So Facebook set its sights on another South Lake Union property, the six-story, 150,000-square-foot 1101 Westlake building, adding seats for around 900 more employee butts. This time around, design credit goes to Studios Architecture.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that, as has been in vogue in tech for quite some time, it’s also an open office, which Facebook says “enables our teams to be collaborative and transparent.” The design plays to this, too—it’s not only unwalled workspaces, but open staircases, floor-to-ceiling windows, and even semi-private spaces flowing into the rest of the office through big, glass doors.
While the space all has “open” in common, there are a few different vibes of open space: some are more social spaces with tables or booths, and while a library provides a different feel for small meetings. While employees have dedicated workstations, they can pop into these different spaces when they need a change of scenery.
Overall, the office has 47 day offices and more than 30 conference rooms, along with additional cozier workspaces, training rooms, and more informal meeting spaces.
The building’s colorful art installations come 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 all the rage in South Lake Union, the building has amenities, like a bike repair shop on the bottom floor, along with a bike cage with 96 spots inside. A transit center provides route consultations and trip planning to employees, plus “end-of-trip facilities” like showers and “a dedicated drying room.” Westlake Cafe operates a cafe in the building.
Facebook seems poised to grow even more in Seattle, especially as the city becomes more and more of a tech center. In addition to its team of engineers in Seattle, Facebook, along with Google and Huawei, also funds the University of Washington’s Reality Lab. It also signed on to the City of Seattle’s digital equity initiative. (Another way Facebook’s interacting with Seattle, although not directly related to locating here: it recently got a very hands-on lesson in Seattle election law.)
Employees started moving into the facility at the end of February.