Written by Jorge Tenorio
Facebook Confirms Mysterious Oculus ‘Building X’ in Bellevue's Spring District.
With tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon calling the Seattle area home, it's safe to say the region has become headquarters for some of the most successful companies in the world. Little wonder that another big league company is gearing up to put roots down in this amazingly vibrant city.
Facebook is the newest tech giant to call Seattle home. The tech company recently announced plans to lease "Building X," a component of their new Oculus campus, and recently rented space in the Spring District, bringing the company's space occupancy to a staggering 2.7 million square feet, most of which is located in Bellevue, Washington.
Building X will replace two previous buildings with a total of 689,000 sq. feet. The building will be equipped with office space, laboratory space, skylights, and an atrium. Gearing up to fill up that space, Facebook has listed a total of 415 new job opening throughout the Seattle and Redmond areas combined. The company paid $20 million in December 2017 for the property located on Willows Road.
Although no official building designs have been submitted yet, project planners Gehry Partners hopes to break ground around June this year with an estimated completion date by 2022. Keeping in line with ethical concerns, Building X will attempt LEED silver certification, meet Redmond's Green Building Incentives and Salmon-Safe certification in an effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Additionally, Facebook is leasing a 338,000 sq. foot building located in the Spring District neighborhood. The new Spring District neighborhood built around a future light rail station and REI headquarters will also be the site of the Global Innovation Exchange a graduate program created by the University of Washington.
The 11-story office building is expected to be completed by early 2020 and will house the company for the next 13 years. The mixed-use building will be used for both office and retail space and will showcase creative offerings of the Spring District.
Known as Block 16, this tremendous building will also include views of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, public park spaces for an engaging pedestrian experience. Speaking of the pedestrian experience, the Spring District will also have access to the future East Link light rail system that will connect the neighborhood with other busy areas including downtown Seattle, University of Washington, Bellevue and Sea-Tac International Airport.
Up until 2016 Facebook's imprint on the Seattle, the region was minimal, employing only 3,000 people. With the development of the Oculus campus, the company hopes to increase its workforce using the stellar tech talent located in the region. By all estimates, the company hopes to increase its workforce between 10,000-13,000 people in the next few years.
The Oculus campus has led to speculation about Facebook's possible venture into the virtual assistant realm currently dominated by Amazon's Alexa. Lead by Ira Snyder, the company has confirmed researching and developing AR/VR projects extensively but has remained tight-lipped about a virtual assistant project.
Although the company has increased job openings and continues to build its sprawling Redmond campus, Facebook faces challenges should the company enter the virtual assistant market, a market that is remarkably crowded already. The leading competitors, Amazon and Google command 97 percent of market share leaving very little room for the social media giant.
Despite those challenges, the Oculus campus is expanding, without any signs of slowing down. Unsurprisingly, Facebook has kept quiet about the final size of the campus but some speculate the final occupied space will be large. The Oculus project will require research and laboratory space mostly, so experts estimate that the campus could reach as large as 1-1.4 million square feet including Building X and other spaces rented throughout the area such as the Spring District.
Although Facebook's rapid expansion in the Seattle area puts it among the largest office users in the area, it still doesn't match the spaces occupied by Amazon and Microsoft which is 15 million and 13.5 million square feet respectively.