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Lessons learned from top employers

If You Build It, They Will Come

Facebook campus

Facebook’s new corporate headquarters. Image via Mark Zuckerberg.

Within 15 miles of one another in Northern California, Apple, Google, and Facebook are setting the standard for workplace glamour—all with an eye towards attracting the best and brightest talent.

Facebook’s 430,000-square-foot building was designed by Gehry Partners and opened in 2015. It also reflects openness with what CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg described as the world’s largest open floor plan; a space that can hold thousands of employees. There are also cafés, micro-kitchens with snacks, and “break-away spaces” with couches and white boards. The building is topped with a 9-acre rooftop garden, a half-mile walking loop, and more than 400 trees and 115,000 shrubs.

Apple’s new headquarters, designed by Foster + Partners, is scheduled to open in April of 2017. The 175-acre campus has room for more than 14,000 employees in a ring-shaped building often referred to as a “spaceship.” Reflecting Apple’s penchant for secrecy, the inner circle will be closed to the public, but visitors will be allowed access to a retail store, a café, and visitor center. Employees, however, will have exclusive use of an interior meadow with a pond, an orchard, and two miles of walking and bike paths containing more than 9,000 native and drought-resistant trees. There will be a 100,000-square-foot fitness center and a 1,000-seat theater.

Google’s new campus, scheduled to open in 2019, is being created with the aid of an advisory group of engineers from different parts of the company that provided recommendations for improving the work environment. Results included such features as temperature controls at the desk level. The 595,000-square-foot, two-story building resembles a puffy white cloud with a solar-powered roof. Reflecting Google’s core value of openness, the public will be allowed access to the ground floor of the campus’ main building where they can dine at cafés and sample experiences such as virtual reality. There will also be a plaza where the public can listen to performances. The design will try to revitalize the existing environment by widening creek beds, enhancing habitats for burrowing owls that live underground in the area, and planting 383 native trees. Google worked with architecture firms Heatherwick Studio, based in the United Kingdom, and Denmark-based Bjarke Ingels Group.

All of this glamour may attract top employees, but it doesn’t alleviate concerns regarding increased traffic and insufficient housing. In addition to keeping an eye out to determine if other industries will adapt similar standards for workplace amenities, it will be interesting to see how these projects deal with traffic and housing issues.

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