Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google: Who is building the coolest tech campus?

amazonhq-3

Amazon’s new biodome structure planned for downtown Seattle.

One looks like a futuristic spaceship, another includes three steel and glass biodomes. A third is being developed by world-class architect Frank Gehry, and the fourth spans 42-acres on a former airfield.

Welcome to the wonderful world of “geek-tecture” where Apple, Amazon.com, Facebook and Google are all trying to outdo one another with new corporate campuses. It has gotten so heated that CNBC recently called it Silicon Valley’s “incredible edifice complex.”

biosphere666So, who will have the best spread? Here are images and factoids from each project, two of which — Amazon.com’s downtown Seattle campus and Google’s new Googleplex — are being designed by Seattle architecture firm NBBJ. Meanwhile, Reuters reports on the new developments, and asks whether the buildings, which could win a “Pritzker Architecture Prize for hubris,” signal a high-point for the companies.

“These fantastical buildings may end up as little more than costly monuments to vanity and a loss of focus on the core business that made for success in the first place,” Reuters reporters Bill Rigby and Alistair Barr write. 

So, what do you think? Which of these would you want sticking around your community?

Amazon.com

amazon-campus555Location: Seattle, Washington (Denny Triangle neighborhood)

Size: 3.3 million square feet across three 37-story office towers, with the added biosphere concept.

Design description: “While the form of the building will be visually reminiscent of a greenhouse or conservatory, plant material will be selected for its ability to co-exist in a microclimate that also suits people,” the documents continue. “To encourage growth and maintain the health of the plants, the building’s interior will include high bay spaces on five floors totaling approximately 65,000 SF and capable of accommodating mature trees.”

Architect: NBBJ

Completion date: Late 2015 or early 2016.

Apple: 

apple-campus

Apple Campus 2 has been compared to a spaceship.

Location: Cupertino, California.

Size: 2.8 million square feet on 176-acres.

Design description: “Apple proposes to create Apple Campus 2 — an integrated, unified, and secure 21st century campus surrounded by green space. This new development will provide a serene environment reflecting Apple’s brand values of innovation, ease of use, and beauty.”

Architect: Foster + Partners.

Completion date: 2016

Facebook

facebook-campusLocation: Menlo Park, California (Former Sun Microsystems headquarters)

Size: 433,555 square feet

Design description: “Facebook’s aversion to panache speaks to the company’s hacker ethos, which emphasizes functionality over form and, at its most insular, heads-down work over outside engagement and communication. In a way, Facebook’s “very anonymous” new building design is like Zuckerberg’s trademark outfit of gray hoodie, jeans and sneakers: an unassuming wrapper around a remarkably capable entity.” Via Wired.

Architect: Frank Gehry (Architect behind Seattle’s EMP)

Completion date: 2015.

Google

google-nbbj

The new Googleplex being designed by NBBJ.

Location: Mountain View, California.

Size: 1.1 million square feet on 42-acres at the NASA Ames Research Center.

Design description: “The bent rectangles are arranged to form large and small courtyards, and several of the buildings have green roofs. All of the structures are connected by bridges, one of which will bring people directly to one of the green roofs that has been done up with an outdoor café and gathering space. And cars, the bane of almost every suburban office complex, including the Googleplex, are hidden away.” Via Vanity Fair.

Architect: NBBJ.

Completion date: 2015.

  • http://davepeck.org/ Dave Peck

    I’m a strong believer in Amazon’s urban campus uprising. Apple, on the other hand, is building the world’s most beautiful suburban sprawl.

  • nickfinck

    The information about the new Amazon campus is inaccurate. It won’t be two conjoined bio-dome says sources inside of Amazon who attended the recent all-hands meeting. The structure will, however, have a large glass roof.

  • Zicoz

    The new Googleplex loos like the old Microsoft one.

  • Tom Peters

    Apple is building a monument to themselves. The stock price seems to say that they forgot their true purpose: building amazing products for their customers.

  • Chris Daltas

    The Google campus looks just like stuff we’ve seen before from Nike and Microsoft. I voted for Amazon because it’s ridiculous as an actual place to work the Facebook office is the most appealing. I have no interest in being quarantined at Apple’s Campus 2 that might actually take off.