Facebook’s biggest engineering center outside of its hometown keeps getting bigger.
In the last few weeks, employees have started moving in to a building called Arbor Blocks 300, the first in a two-structure complex that can ultimately house upward of 2,000 combined Facebook employees. As workers are unpacking, GeekWire got a peek inside the new six-story structure that sits right in Amazon’s backyard of South Lake Union.
With 196,000-square-feet of office space, the new building at 300 Eighth Avenue N. adds capacity for an additional 1,000 employees. Across the woonerf, a European concept of an activated street with lots of greenery, is another Facebook building still under construction that will be ready in the summer, with room for another 1,000 people.
Facebook’s Seattle engineering center today has more than 3,000 people, making it the company’s largest outpost outside of the Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters. The Seattle office works on areas like infrastructure and machine learning and products like Messenger, Marketplace and Games. Each building typically houses a number of different teams, and the new building has a large contingent of people working on Marketplace as well as members of the recruiting teams.
The new building follows an architectural aesthetic set by the Frank Gehry-designed Dexter Station building that opened three years ago and has become the center of Facebook’s Seattle engineering hub. Central staircases between floors open up the office, with common areas in the center of floors and desks pushed to the edges.
Like Dexter Station and Facebook’s other office spaces in the city, the new building has an unfinished look that is very popular these days. Lots of wood, concrete floors and exposed duct work are present throughout.
The walls are lined with murals and art projects on virtually every floor as part of the company’s Artist in Residence program.
The most notable difference with the new building is that the company is cramming in fewer employees in favor of having a few more amenities. The new building features a cafeteria that takes about a quarter of a floor, laundry services, a coffee shop, several self-serve snack stations and a large gym complete with personal trainers.
Facebook’s sprawling real estate footprint makes it easier for the company to set aside a few extra square feet to squeeze in another coffee area or game room.
In February, the company said it had 2.7 million square feet of current and planned space, which includes Arbor Blocks and a growing campus in Microsoft’s backyard of Redmond, Wash. for Facebook Reality Labs, the virtual/augmented reality unit that also includes Oculus Research.
Using conventional office space ratios as an estimate, Facebook’s future capacity in the area could be somewhere between 13,500 to 18,000 people. However, much of the Oculus campus is for lab and research space, requiring more space per employee, so the capacity is probably somewhere closer to 10,000.
The Arbor Blocks complex is virtually surrounded by Amazon. Just across the alley is an Amazon complex. And one of Amazon’s new towers under construction a few blocks away looms over Facebook’s rooftop deck.
The location underscores the battle for tech talent among these tech giants. The South Lake Union neighborhood has long been Amazon’s territory, but Facebook has growing there for years, and now Google is moving in.