Samsung’s new North American headquarters in San Jose is now open for business. Designed by NBBJ, the 1.1 million-square-foot, $300 million building presents itself as a counterpoint to the introverted campuses that dot Silicon Valley: Facebook’s self-contained, Gehry-ific HQ or Foster’s secluded spaceship for Apple. Unveiled in 2013, the design went from concept to construction in rapid time. According to the architects, the designers and Samsung worked closely with the city to create a scheme that supports the city’s urban design mandate for densification, walkability, and bikeability. (AN recently reported that San Jose also has a mandate to generate jobs, a mission that is at times at cross-purposes with the need for housing in the region.) The building is sited to connect to the city’s light-rail system. The design is meant to encourage employees to leave their desks at lunch and walk across the landscaped gardens to the cafeteria, to engage just a bit in the activities of urban life. And the inverse is also true. A courtyard in the middle of the office block (the building reveals itself to be two bar buildings connected by bridges on alternating floors) is open to the public and will offer retail amenities. Samsung’s 2,000 employees can look out through the interior glass facade at the choreography of everyday life passing through the South Korean company’s own Piazza del Campo. “The world’s largest electronics company is changing itself into innovator. This brought about a need to change the internal culture of the workplace,” explained Scott Wyatt, the NBBJ partner in charge in the firm’s Seattle office who led the workplace strategy. “We asked ourselves ‘How can a building help them compete for talent and enable innovation?’” For Wyatt the answer on view in San Jose suggests that open floor plates, and connection to the outdoors both physically and visually, and interaction between employees promotes health and performance. Moreover, the design responds to a need for architecture flexible enough to accommodate team-based work and, in trendy workplace parlance, mobility. As such, collaborative spaces face the courtyard while the more solo desks and focused work areas are located around the perimeter. The gradated window openings on the exterior facade are calibrated to the need for more or less daylight. “Work any time in any place, but in teams is changing how buildings are made,” he noted.
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Although the Snøhetta-designed SFMOMA expansion won’t open until mid-2016, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Earlier this month the museum promoted Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher to the Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design and head of the Department of Architecture and Design. Dunlop Fletcher (who joined the museum as an assistant curator in 2007) co-curated the impressive Lebbeus Woods, Architect exhibition in 2013. AN spoke to her about the future of architecture and design in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The Architect's Newspaper: What is your vision for your curatorial role and for the new space? Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher: That’s always the hardest thing to answer. First, we will have a new gallery dedicated to architecture and design on the sixth floor of the new museum, which I’m very excited about. In the previous building, we had three spaces cobbled together with different ceiling heights, so having a refreshed gallery is going to be great. Also, we will have another dedicated A&D space on the third floor. Second, we get to participate in more museum-wide programs. I see a lot of opportunity for us to expand outside of our gallery and take advantage of the way designers work and be flexible and responsive to different spaces. In terms of responsiveness, how might the new design impact how you approach exhibitions? So, the way that Snøhetta responds to the physical conditions of the site and social conditions of the site, I think we also recognize that the engineering coming out of Silicon Valley has been a tremendous attracter for many designers to come to San Francisco. Internally, we’ve been focusing on research funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant that looks at how designer practice has changed so much in the last 30 years due to new software tools. And of course, that relates so much to what is happening just outside our door. If we can really study those practices and the migration from pen and pencil to software we will have a whole new collecting approach internationally. This is something that has changed and affected every single design discipline: graphic design, product design, and architecture. So, if we take the three-year period (which we’ve outlined in the grant) to really look at some key designers and understand their practice behind the scenes, it will affect how we move forward in collecting and displaying this integrated work. I think it’s going to be a very big difference. In what way? The twenty-first century has moved away from object-based presentation and museums need to recognize that. Everyone still loves to come into the museum and see an original object, but the way that designers communicate with each other and clients has changed. We can’t impose a kind of more traditional display on that relationship. So, can we expect an expanded idea of representation? Are we talking about more screens? Well, I’ve been warned not to really discuss exactly what’s happening in the opening, but I think screens, but not screens in a consumption sense, not in a passive, let’s just watch something unfold sense, but more in a dynamic sense. And maybe…oh, I wish I could talk about this one thing! How can I speak about it abstractly? New ways to experience design that is traditionally experienced kind of phenomenologically, all the senses. So there might be a way for screens or devices to enable a different kind of interaction. We seem to be talking a little bit more about design and industrial design. What about sort of the architecture part of the equation? I’m not trying to exclude the architecture at all. The architects I see here are very, very interested in poking holes in existing software and hacking software and responsive buildings and robotic mechanized buildings. It’s permeated all the design disciplines here.
Streetlights and lampposts are good for more than finding your way home and singin' in the rain. Tech firms Cisco Systems and Sensity Networks plan to help Kansas City roll out smart lighting that can broadcast and share data with city agencies and private companies. "Cisco's and Sensity's intelligent lighting platform transforms each lighting fixture into a sensory node in a powerful, broadband wireless network, creating a light sensory network for municipalities,” reads a Cisco press release. As part of a planned public wifi network, the smart lights could potentially gather and share data about public safety, traffic, and even retail analytics, although the release doesn't detail any specific programs. Lux magazine put the announcement in context:
Other cities embarking on similar projects include Los Angeles, San Diego, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Bristol, England, among others. In Denmark, the Danish Outdoor Lighting Laboratory is testing many of the principles. Hamburg, Germany is using smart streetlighting to help it more efficiently run Europe's second largest port.Kansas City is no stranger to high-tech experiments. Google's pilot program for high-speed, fiber-optic broadband infrastructure kicked up the terms “fiberhood” and even “Silicon Prairie.”
As Facebook taps Gehry for two more buildings, take a peek inside the tech giant’s new Menlo Park offices
Facebook has allowed precious few people to see its new Frank Gehry–designed headquarters in Menlo Park, California. One of the lucky scribes was architecture critic James Russell, reporting for the Wall Street Journal. He raved about the hangar-like building's massive ceiling heights, clustered "neighborhoods," lack of hierarchy, and oodles of natural light. Another glimpse of the 434,000, single-floor space, which will eventually hold 2,800 employees, was from The Guardian, which actually posted a picture of the new space by none other than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself. “The building itself is pretty simple and isn’t fancy,” Zuckerberg told the Guardian. “That’s on purpose. We want our space to feel like a work in progress. When you enter our buildings, we want you to feel how much left there is to be done in our mission to connect the world." The Guardian noted that Facebook has just submitted plans for two more buildings next door, also by Gehry, with a floor area of roughly a million square feet. The scheme, also includes a community nicknamed "Zee Town," built for 10,000 employees on 200 acres. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Facebook bought a 56-acre campus once belonging to Prologis south of their current campus in February, so their expansion seems to be just beginning. More pictures of the new offices below.
The excitement over Apple's new mega-campus in Silicon Valley continues to build. First, we got an aerial drones-eye-view of the under-construction Apple Campus 2 in Cupertino, California (check it out after the jump!). And now, we get to see the corporate auditorium where the company will show off its new products once complete in 2016. Renderings released by the Contract Division of Poltrona Frau Group (PFG Contract) depict Foster + Partner's theater. PFG Contract will supply and install 660 custom chairs and 250 lounge armchairs. A grass walkway will lead visitors and employees to a glass pavilion marked by a saucer-shaped roof, making way to the underground stage. Forbes reported there will be a secret subterranean passage to the auditorium, allowing speakers or other employees to move between the 4-story main building and the stage privately, away from the press and other visitors. Auditorium completion is expected by spring/summer 2016. In 2007 PFG Contract worked with the Apple Design Team to create seating for theater spaces in Apple retail sites worldwide. The company's first commission was for armchairs for the ocean liner, Rex, in the 1930s, and they moved into designing seating systems for theaters and auditoriums in the 1980s. This past February, Dezeen reported that furniture company Haworth had bought PFG Contract. The 2.8 million square feet circular extension of Apple's headquarters, led by Foster + Partners, will sit in an over-100-acre forest designed by landscape architecture firm OLIN. Apple's forest will be an orchard of sorts, able to supply its own food, with plum, apple, cherry, persimmon, and apricot trees on site. The new campus will hold 13,000 employees, with an underground auditorium built during the first phase of construction.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Perhaps the most hyped corporate campus in history, Apple's Norman Foster–designed campus in Cupertino, is starting to come out of the ground. YouTube user jmcminn recently uploaded a video of a (loud) drone flying over the top secret construction site, where work began a few months ago and should continue through 2016. The circular foundations appear to be over a quarter complete. The 2.8 million square foot, 12,000-employee campus was first revealed in 2011 and joins ambitious new Silicon Valley campuses by Samsung, Google, Facebook, Nvidia and more in a remarkable architectural run in the area. Wondering if people are interested? The Apple construction page has almost 3 million views. For more construction news visit the city of Cupertino's update page. Other partners on the project are engineers Arup and landscape architects Olin (managing over 10,000 square feet of landscaped space).
Goettsch Partners landed its largest project in China, a cluster of five towers on 15 acres in Shenzhen’s Qianhai district. China Resources Land Limited (CR Land) hired the Chicago-based Goettsch to design 5.4 million square feet of space for offices, apartments, a five-star hotel, and retail. U.K.–based Benoy is the masterplanner, and is designing a shopping mall and retail areas at the towers’ base. CR Land and Goettsch have worked together before, including on two hotel towers at Shenzhen Bay. Shenzhen’s Qianhai district is in a “special economic zone” targeted for development by the Chinese government, which envisions the 5.8-square-mile area as the “Manhattan of the Pearl River Delta.” Goettsch’s towers will rise in “Neighborhood 2,” the most recent Qianhai parcel to host development that Chinese authorities say will total $45 billion by the conclusion of the area’s overhaul. Their announcement has spurred a small frenzy of building and land speculation, attracting billions of dollars of investment from real estate developers in this boom town about an hour from Hong Kong. Goettsch’s design plays off the blue glass of nearby buildings with a metallic-painted aluminum frame, using horizontal fins on the hotel and apartment towers to differentiate them subtly. As with many such megablock developments in China, ground-level shopping and pedestrian paths will link the five towers. Since it was designated a special economic zone in the late 1970s, Shenzhen has seen its population balloon from 30,000 to more than 8 million. Its reputation as China’s “instant city” has brought an influx of foreign investment, but it also speaks of the city’s struggles with pollution and dangerous working conditions. Perhaps best known in the West for making Apple products, Shenzhen is a manufacturing hub that has been called "China's Silicon Valley." In the wake of a “suicide crisis” at Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer in charge of Shenzhen’s most notorious Apple factories, the company moved most of their jobs north to Zhengzhou.
Like many major tech companies in Silicon Valley, Apple provides free transportation for its employees living in the Bay Area. About 28 percent of Apple employees do not drive to work, instead taking employer-owned biodiesel shuttles, biking, or walking. In an effort to bring that percentage up to 34 percent (a figure that will help get their new Norman Foster–designed campus in Cupertino approved), the company is expanding its fleet of buses and building a dedicated transportation center. With an annual budget of $35 million—that's approximately $21,000 per employee—the Transportation Demand Management program, as it is formally called, provides an average of 1,600 employees a free ride to work each day. Shuttles owned and operated by companies such as Google and Apple have sparked recent protests, prompting the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to approve a new plan: company shuttle buses will have to pay $1 for every stop made, every day. The proposal is set to go into effect this July and raise $1.5 million over the first year and a half. More info at the Los Angeles Times.
Last week we reported on Gensler's planned triangular Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, the latest addition to the architectural arms race that is Silicon Valley. (We're seeing zoomy new headquarters for Apple, Samsung, HP, Nvidia, etc, etc.) Now there's yet another. Google's new project adjacent to its "Googleplex" in Mountain View, has unveiled their new designs by NBBJ. The new campus, which is being called Bay View, is comprised of nine crimped, predominantly-four-story buildings. Each building will be connected by a bridge; a connectivity that has become a staple of NBBJ's office work around the world, including its new headquarters for Samsung nearby. The competition to out-campus the competition seems to be heating up. Who's next?
Silicon Valley definitely has the architecture bug. We've recently seen remarkable new designs put forth by Foster + Partners for Apple and NBBJ for Samsung. Now Gensler has released ambitious new designs for tech company Nvidia, located in Santa Clara. The 24-acre complex's two 500,000-square-foot buildings are each shaped like triangles, a configuration that Gensler principal Hao Ko explains facilitates collaboration by allowing connections to each side of the building to be the shortest. (The triangle, he adds, is also "the fundamental primitive that defines all shapes in the digital realm.") Undulating roofs will be made up of smaller triangle pieces, breaking down the overall mass and allowing for ample skylighting, in the in-between spaces. Construction is set to begin this summer, with completion in 2015. Apple's circle now has geometric competition. Who's next?
As Apple and Facebook have proven, corporate complexes are all the rage these days in Silicon Valley. Samsung (Apple's phone nemesis) is the latest tech titan to add to the roster of architectural Bay Area campuses, rivaling Apple’s planned circular headquarters and Facebook’s Gehry-designed West Campus. The company plans to build a 1.1 million square foot sales and R&D headquarters on its current North San Jose site. Designed NBBJ, it will include a 10-story tower, an amenity pavilion, and a parking garage. Based on renderings released to the Silicon Valley Business Journal last month, the tower will contain three distinct volumes wrapping around an open courtyard; the parking structure will be covered in living walls; and the five-pronged pavilion will showcase a perforated roof design. Design documents also reveal that various floors will house open-offices, 300+ work stations, a fitness room, and several terraces.
Use of cell phones is strongly encouraged for tech devotees flocking to Silicon Valley's 'social media whispering wall'As its name implies, Datagrove is literally a grove of data or a "social media 'whispering wall,'" if you will, that aggregates locally trending Twitter feeds and parrots them out of speakers and LCD displays woven into the digital branches of the installation. Nonprofit art/technology network ZERO1 commissioned the installation from San Francisco–based experimental design company Future Cities Lab for its Art + Technology Biennial in San Jose, CA, now on view through December 8, 2012. The theme of this year's Biennial is "Seeking Silicon Valley," which seems like a particularly appropriate place to plunder data normally hidden away in smartphones and amplify it for all to hear using custom sensors, text-to-speech modules, LEDs, and LCDs capable of responding directly to people in the immediate vicinity. In order to "render the invisible aspects of Silicon Valley visible," Nattaly Gattegno and Jason Kelly Johnson, the principals of Future Cities Lab, created a lattice structure interwoven with Twitter trending technology by Onehouse, IR sensors, TextSpeak's Text to Speech Module, LEDs by Super Bright LEDs, and Sparkfun's WiFly Shield and LCD panels that translate geo-located data feeds into light and sound. "As one approaches the installation a series of infrared sensors trigger the sensing pods to light up, which, through a series of embedded speakers, whisper to you the trending information like...Have you heard about...Oracle, or Have you heard about ...Olympics," said Gattegno. Before weaving everything together, Gattegno and Johnson first tested all of the materials individually while also developing "physical prototypes of the interactive sensing pods containing all the electronic components." After a series of tests they decided the best way to house the electronics was to seal them in vacuum formed 2-ply acrylic shells which they wove into a larger structure made from bent acrylic tubing and galvanized steel conduit. "The acrylic is heated and molded in a series of custom CNC milled jigs while the steel is bent over another set of custom jigs," Gattegno said. "Although made up of two material systems, the acrylic and steel interlock in a very deliberate way, structuring each other and suspending the sensing pods within them." All of the electronics, both the acrylic-shelled pods and the systems they operate with—the text-to-speech synthesizers, motion sensors, LCDs and LEDs—are part of an Arduino-based micro-controlled system produced and engineered in-house at Future Cities Lab's San Francisco workshop. The components were then secured to a base made from CNC milled plywood and polypropylene and installed onsite in the courtyard of San Jose's historic California Theater, creating a gathering place for the geographically disparate and disconnected Silicon Valley. The longer you view or interact with Datagrove, the easier it is to make sense of the data. Gradually, you discern patterns and begin to detect a natural cadence from what initially seems like a tangled web of Silicon Valley's verbal overflow. Photographs by Peter Prato. Additional assistance from Ripon DeLeon, interns Osma Dossani and Jonathan Izen, assisted by David Spittler.