Lead designer of the Facebook project, Shohei Shigematsu of OMA New York, said in an interview with the Almanac that the biggest challenge of the Willow Campus project so far has been to "create a sense of place."
"I think that's why we had to create, basically, part of a new city – not just a typical office park venture," said Mr. Shigematsu, who heads the architectural firm's New York office. "The most important part, he said, was developing the public spaces.
Mr. Shigematsu has worked on such projects as the Faena Forum in Miami Beach and the Musee national des beaux-arts du Quebec in Ontario, Canada.
Compared to Amazon and Google, he noted, companies that have also used international architecture firms for their buildings, he said, "I think the framework of the Willow Campus is very different," he said. "It's not about the architectural icon but about creating iconic space ... that's a beautiful thing about this project."
Mr. Shigematsu said that the guidelines for development in Menlo Park's updated general plan provided a "great framework" for the project. "We were creative enough to interpret the general plan into a slightly more specific response," he said.
"The density is quite high compared to the rest of Menlo Park," he admitted, noting that studies were done to analyze traffic patterns and movements. "We are quite confident it will work out, even with this density," he said.
Consolidating the parking into garages toward the interior of the site, he noted, will allow most of the campus to be car-free.
Though the refined architectural plans haven't been completed, he said, the plan is to integrate the new buildings with the existing architectural character: playful, casual and not pretentious. "That's the kind of essence we got from Menlo Park and the Facebook culture," he said.