Just over decade ago I wrote a big article for Salon that asked why Silicon Valley’s vaunted innovation hadn’t extended to its physical environment.
Well, perhaps times are changing. As the LA Times reports today, “Tech companies that have long occupied dreary office parks are planning to build distinctive campuses that reflect their art and soul.”
Frank Gehry is redesigning the Facebook campus. Foster and Partners is adding Apple’s new headquarters to its local portfolio (along with the Clark Center, home of Stanford’s Bio-X program). Samsung, Google and Nvidia plan spiffy new buildings, too.
Reporter Chris O’Brien credits a growing appreciation of design among Valley companies for the change, along with the presumption that working in a ‘building that makes your jaw hit the floor’ might help companies recruit top talent. I think he’s likely right. If he is, we’re still a way off from matching the ambitions of the builders of renaissance Florence (the then-popular comparison that launched my Salon article). But with luck our eyes will have a little more to feast on as we move our very un-virtual bodies around.