Today social media giant Facebook announced it had tapped international firm OMA to master plan its Willow Campus, a mixed-use neighborhood that will be located next to the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Shohei Shigematsu, the partner who helms OMA’s New York office, will lead the design. “It’s exciting to collaborate with Facebook, whose innovation in networking and social media extends to urban ambitions for connectivity in the Bay Area,” said Shigematsu in a release. “The Willow Campus masterplan creates a sense of place with diverse programming that responds to the needs of the Menlo Park community. The site has the potential to impact the future of regional transportation, housing, and environment.”
Facebook first moved to Menlo Park in 2011, with Frank Gehry designing a major 434,000-square-foot expansion a few years later. In terms of this latest round, said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of global faculties and real estate, “our goal for the Willow Campus is to create an integrated, mixed-use village that will provide much needed services, housing, and transit solutions as well as office space. Part of our vision is to create a neighborhood center that provides long-needed community services. We plan to build 125,000 square feet of new retail space, including a grocery store, pharmacy, and additional community-facing retail.”
Housing and regional transportation will both figure prominently into this master plan. Tenanes said that this development will see 1,500 units of housing built, with 15 percent listed at below market rates. Having housing on site will hopefully reduce traffic, he continued, while also adding that “Willow Campus will be an opportunity to catalyze regional transit investment by providing planned density sufficient to support new east-west connections and a future transit center. We’re investing tens of millions of dollars to improve US101.” (As Tenanes noted in the press release, this isn’t Facebook’s first foray into affordable housing.)
Tenanes stated that Facebook and OMA will file a plan with the City of Menlo Park this month. From there, they will “begin more formal conversations with local government officials and community organizations over the course of the review process, which we expect to last approximately two years.” He estimates construction will occur in several phases, with “the first to include the grocery, retail, housing and office completed in early 2021, and subsequent phases will take two years each to complete.”