Facebook's Quirky Real Estate Tale

MENLO PARK, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Newly public social networking phenomenon Facebook ( FB) recently capped an eventful few months by revealing an ambitious expansion of its already sprawling campus in Silicon Valley.

A cross between an aircraft hangar and a vast urban park, the approximately 433,555-square-foot building was described by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the "largest open floor plan in the world."In a status update, Zuckerberg said that the new campus will be "the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together."

Situated on the other side of the Bayfront Expressway from the company's headquarters, the 22-acre West Campus, formerly home to Tyco Electronics, will eventually house 2,800 Facebook engineers. Acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, the man behind the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, will design the building.

"The Frank Gehry building is getting us back to our roots and getting us back to a building that represents Facebook," explained Slater Tow, a Facebook spokesman, during an interview at the company's headquarters. "Up until we moved here we were based mainly out of one room in Palo Alto -- that has always been how we have worked."

Facebook completed its move to its 57-acre HQ, known as its East Campus, in late 2011, taking over a cluster of buildings previously occupied by Sun Microsystems.

In a recent blog post, Facebook's environmental design manager, Everett Katigbak, noted that the new campus will somewhat resemble a warehouse. "Everyone will sit out in the open with desks that can be quickly shuffled around as teams form and break apart around projects," he wrote. "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."

The new campus, however, will boast a highly unusual exterior, with Facebook turning the building's roof into a park, complete with long walking trail and a field.

"It's a fully functional rooftop garden -- it's going to be really cool," explained Facebook's Tow, noting that the campus will push the green envelope. "We're basically going to plant a forest around the ground level -- it's almost like this building is peeking out of the forest."

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