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05.27.2014
Blurring Boundaries
HOK-designed Silicon Valley campus embraces the outdoors.
The campus will contain walking trails at ground level and on the rooftop.
Courtesy HOK

Lately, the world’s largest technology companies have pushed to redefine the meaning of the tech campus. These giants have commissioned some of the biggest names in architecture, including Frank Gehry (Facebook), Foster + Partners (Apple), NBBJ (Google, Amazon, and Samsung). Although distinct in form, they all share a similar world-within-a-world ideal. They are mini cities that blur the traditional divide between work and life. There is space for everything: brainstorming, haircuts, kitchens, daycare, laundry, yoga, bike repairs, banking, eating, drinking, dog walking, and strolling.

The campus contains three interconnected buildings entwined with green space.
 

For the newest Silicon Valley campus this means taking the outside world in and the inside world out through generous proportions, permeable access, and copious green space. Plans unveiled for The Central and Wolfe Campus (named for its location at the intersection of the Central Expressway and Wolfe Road) in Sunnyvale California boast floor plates ranging from 62,000 to 208,000 square feet and 13½-foot floor-floor heights. The 777,000-square-foot campus designed by HOK with developers Landbank, C Richard Ellis, and Cassidy Turley, will replace a 1970s business park on an 18-acre site. The campus, still finalizing its tenants, is intended to meet LEED Platinum standards.

 
 

The design provides plenty of space for collaboration, with most parking underground to provide about 9 acres of ground-level open space with 2 miles of outdoor trails. There are plans for a second layer of green: a 90,000-square-foot rooftop garden and an optional second 208,000 rooftop green space with an additional mile of trails. And at the center of the three curved interconnected buildings, renderings depict a sunken amphitheater with food truck access. Shuttle busses will convey employees to and from a Caltrain station, which is 1½ miles from campus.

“It was critical that every major design element that went into the campus had to raise the user experience bar. In this case, the ‘users’ include companies, their employees, surrounding communities, and Mother Nature,” said Scott Jacobs, CEO of Landbank. Paul Woodford, Senior Vice President and Director of Design at HOK noted that the firm had to challenge preconceptions about what is “leasable, efficient, and excitable.” He added: “We redefined the traditional developer driven real estate solution at a competitive price point.”

Projected completion is slated for March 2016.

Ariel Rosenstock