It's been about a year since Facebook's New York City office has been bursting at the seams of its two-floor Madison Avenue office, which is located in a drab stretch of Midtown just northwest of Grand Central Station.
New digs in the much hipper downtown Astor Place neighborhood have been in the works for about a year as well. Although the office is not quite complete, on Monday the grand move-in, for Facebook's more than 300 New York City-based employees, begins.
Facebook's engineering head in New York, Serkan Piantino, seems pretty excited to be moving his team of about 100 engineers into the heart of the city's tech scene. "We plan to host tech meetups and share what we're working on here in NYC. We'll even throw a party now and then," he wrote on Facebook Monday.
Facebook tapped architect Frank Gehry to draw up plans for the new space--another two floors in an office tower, but this one at 770 Broadway. The downtown address places Facebook in the same building as several other companies at the intersection of media and technology, including AOL, TechCrunch, and Adweek.
The Silicon Alley office isn't just central to New York City's startup scene, it's actually central for Facebook employees themselves. Piantino told me earlier this month that early in the process of scouting for new office space, Piantino polled employees about what they wanted from an office. One of the top priorities was ease of commute--or walk-ability. So, he--being an engineer--plugged in employees addresses to a map and triangulated the most central neighborhood in all of New York for all of the employees. Turns out, Astor Place and the Village were the hot spots.
This move is the beginning of big growth plans for 2014, where recruiting talented engineers is one of Facebook New York's highest priorities. Facebook NY currently has more than 100 engineers working on products like Pages, Location, Newsfeed, mobile, AI and infrastructure. The new office allows them to grow even more, and they're very actively hiring.
"We'll bring talent to the city and partner with the other industries that live here," Piantino says.
In working with Gehry to lay out the entire office space, the priorities for the New York office strayed from typical design of the big Silicon Valley tech firms, such as Google, Facebook, or AOL.
"A lot of our offices are in more suburban locations, and what they focus on is creating a sense of activity. They focus on making sure people feel there are things going on," Piantino said. "In New York, we wanted to skew slightly toward peace. That's what people don't get enough of in the city."