SAN JOSE, Calif. — With its new Menlo Park, Calif., campus, Facebook is finally its own landlord.
That means the social networking company, never shy about using its previously rented offices to broadcast its upstart hacker identity, is taking self-expression to a new level.
From exposing structural steel girders and offering them as another site for employee graffiti, to choosing bare plywood as the ceiling material over employee walkways, Facebook's ongoing transformation of the former Sun Microsystems campus is meant to telegraph that the company itself remains a work in progress.
"This is finished. Well, it's actually unfinished," said Facebook real estate chief John Tenanes, as he walked through a section of the campus where cutaway walls and ceilings prompted a visitor to wonder whether the renovations were complete. "Because our job is never done, we're only 1 percent of the journey. That's what Mark's mantra is — we're only 1 percent" along in the changes Facebook hopes to bring to the Internet.
About 500 Facebook employees, including the company's legal and finance departments, have moved to Menlo Park. Tenanes' task is to complete renovations to enough of the nine-building complex to house an additional 1,400 employees by the end of the year, with work on the rest of the existing campus due to be completed by next summer — allowing the fast-growing company to accommodate 3,600 workers.
In a timetable that provides one measure of Facebook's growth, the company hopes to build an entirely new West Campus across the street, and win approval to house a combined 9,400 workers in the East and West campuses by the first quarter of 2014.
As in other Facebook offices, all the overhead heating and cooling ductwork in the new campus is exposed, with power and data cables hanging from the ceiling to individual work spaces. (To foster collaboration, Facebook employees don't have offices or cubicles; virtually everyone works side by side at long undivided tables.)
In Menlo Park, however, Facebook has taken the unfinished look even further. Employees can still write on the wall. But in the new campus, Facebook has added floor-to-ceiling blackboards where employees have additional opportunities for self-expression.
"It's a really cool new space," said Rob Lauer, a Facebook employee who was traversing one of the building's hallways on a skateboard while on a break. "It feels really hacky because there's a lot of construction going on — but that's Facebook."