Frank Gehry, the genius architect who designed the Wall 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.
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.
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, socially accepted anti-establishment move.
Here’s what the building looks like. 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.