City to review proposed redevelopment of old Facebook site

The Architectural Review Board will conduct a preliminary review of 1050 Page Mill Road project at its meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5

The city's Architectural Review Board on Thursday will conduct a preliminary review of an application to redevelop the former Facebook headquarters at 1050 Page Mill Road, which would replace two existing buildings with a campus-like office complex.

The proposed project would demolish the Facebook buildings and construct four, two-story office buildings. The new complex, designed by San Francisco-based Form4 Architecture, is modern in style, with "curvaceous" aluminum sunshades and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, according to plans submitted to the city.

The proposed project would occupy the same square footage as the current development -- 283,980 square feet -- but buildings would be located around the perimeter of the site, surrounding a central open space.

This landscaped area would be made possible by moving half of the site's surface parking spaces underground into a new parking structure, which would also help accommodate the proposed addition of 373 parking spaces. The added parking would bring the site much closer to the city's minimum zoning requirement of one space per 300 gross square feet (947 total spaces). There are currently 564 spaces; the project proposes 937.

There's no inclusion in the plans for a potential "spine" road, for which the College Terrace Residents Association has long lobbied and would like to run parallel to California Avenue and Page Mill Road. The road would provide access for service vehicles and ease traffic in College Terrace, especially on California Avenue and the surrounding residential streets, residents have said.

"The notion is that it would go, in theory at least, from Hanover to El Camino and it would provide really a service corridor for all of those buildings there," said Brent Barker, president of the College Terrace Residents' Association.

Two previous Stanford Research Park redevelopments in the area, 2475 Hanover St. (in 2002) and 975 California Ave. (in 2012), were designed to allow for a potential spine road.

Following the California Avenue project approval last year, Stanford Associate Director of Development John Donahue sent a letter to Jaime Rodriguez, Palo Alto's chief transportation official, to propose the city set a very high bar for preparing sites to include access for a future spine road.

The proposed redevelopment of 1050 Page Mill has been designed "so as not to preclude a future vehicular access road through the site," but it is not viewed as "desirable" by the applicant, a staff report states.

"The spine road has to make sense not just to College Terrace but to Stanford, to their lease holders and to the City," Barker said.

The residents' association did win another victory with this proposal, however. It plans to seal off a "back door" entrance that connects the site to California Avenue.

"It was a back door into Facebook," Barker said. "All the employees took that, all the shuttles, service vehicles. So it was kind of a nightmare."

By closing that back entrance, everything would come and go through Page Mill Road.

"If they close it off, we've achieved at least one of the objectives, which is to make sure … they've got parking for 900 cars; we don't want 850 cars coming down California Avenue," Barker said.

City staff will also work with the applicant on the possibility of, at a minimum, creating bicycle and pedestrian access, the report notes.

The Architectural Review Board will meet Thursday, Dec. 5, at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall. The meeting is open for public comment.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

Please at least allow pedestrians and bicyclists to use the "back door" into this site from California Ave. Page Mill Road is a zoo during rush hour and tremendously dangerous to non-car traffic.

Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Why is the one tiny little piece shows the overall orientation of this complex, in the top right corner of picture number two, so small that you cannot even make it out?

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Posted by Credit where credit is due
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

This is the first I've heard of this, but I like it. They're not proposing additional stories, additional square footage, or less parking. The design is organic and modern without being over-the-top. Compared to this city's recent commercial developments, this one is refreshingly unoffensive.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Swoopy doopy lines. Reminiscent of the old Varian Associates klystron waveform logo.

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Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I believe "spine roads" are what we used to call alleys. They had a very useful purpose.

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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

ChrisC, thanks for the translation of "spine roads!"

I'm very taken by the color of the sky in the rendering.

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Posted by SunnyDale times
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Why tear down a building which could someday be considered iconic because of its Facebook origins and replace it with something of the same square ft but with more parking? As is, it could be a tourist site someday. Do the spine road, put parking underground, but keep the existing building "as is".

Back when HP was considered an iconic company, I used to see people taking pictures in front of its HQ. Silicon Valley was built on Palo Alto tech companies, why not save what remains of them?

Like this comment
Posted by rwcbob
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Not sure I agree that the 1050 Page Mill site is iconic. Facebook was there only for a short time after being at a California Ave address and downtown PA previously. Prior to Facebook it was occupied by Beckman Instruments, which later became Beckman Coulter. I worked there from 1984 to 2007, when the business was relocated to Indianapolis. The building facing Page Mill was built 1982.

The more iconic building at the site is 1117 California Ave. Back in the 50's William Shockley had a company there that some consider the start of Silicon Valley. Now that building is occupied by a law firm (I think).

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm

> Why tear down a building which could someday be considered iconic because of its Facebook origins

You have a lot more confidence that Facebook is going to last than I do. I think lots of people are starting to really hate and resent Facebook and Google, and not trust them. If another company can come along and do a similar thing and guarantee people's security, maybe a public site, or non-profit, that does not have to bombard you with constantly with ads, people would jump like kangaroos over there inside of a year.

Like this comment
Posted by Freddie P
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

Face Book ?? ICON??? Not even close That property in my mind and heart will always be BECKMAN Instrumments NOW Beckman Coulter... No matter what goes in there fine with me But when I drive by I will still see the grey 1050 building or on Calif street the brick 1157 builing.

Freddie P 35 Great YEARS!!!!!!!!in those buildings

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