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Facebook signs lease for 730,000 square feet

Cities are dead. New York City is dead. That’s why it was announced early last month that Facebook has just signed a lease for 730,000 square feet in Vornado’s new Farley Post Office redevelopment in Manhattan. Here’s what I think is a pretty telling remark from Brian Rosenthal of Facebook:

“So much of what we do is collaborative,” Rosenthal said. “[Software is] like writing a book together where all the plots have to connect and make sense and there are thousands of authors. It’s really hard to do if you’re not co-located in the same space and it’s important to even be able to see each other in the same space.”

Building a building is done in much the same way. Except I would take it even further and say that it’s like writing individual sentences together. One person starts the sentence (usually the architect), but then the rest of the team enters (engineers and so on) and informs the architect that the words actually need to be changed around.

After a bunch of back and forth, the sentence is finally complete (for the most part). This is just in time for the editors (construction team) to tell you that the sentences you’ve assembled in fact don’t work at all and that they will cost far too much to print in their current form. So team goes back and, once again, readjusts.

As you might imagine, this is a lot easier to do when you’re not fiddling with a mute button and fighting against screaming kids in the background.


  1. Myron Nebozuk

    What Rosenthal says about work environments also applies to education. The thing we call 21st century learning actually describes architectural education since the end of World War 2. We really have to find a way to bring back collaborative learning. It is a cornerstone of a complete education. For recent graduates, an actual work environment is also critically important because knowledge transfer happens most effectively in collaborative work environments.


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