Facebook is about to have a high-value bargaining chip when it comes to luring engineers to its ranks. The company has unveiled plans for a “West Campus” in Menlo Park, Calif., which, when combined with the existing “East Campus” in Palo Alto, could rival the Googleplex and Apple’s planned flying saucer as one of the largest, most awesome places to work.

Menlo Park City Council will get an update on the approval process for the new Facebook campus at a meeting tomorrow night. This will be a slow process. The West Campus requires an environmental review since the area where it is being built is full of trees and is very close to marshland. Menlo Park hopes to complete the draft environmental impact statement for the West Campus and hold public hearings by the end of 2011. So far there haven’t been many objections from the Menlo Park community, which could use an economic boost from a company like Facebook.

Construction on the new West Campus probably won’t begin until 2013.

In the mean time. 1,500 Facebook employees are currently crammed into two buildings in Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto, Calif. They are slowly making the move to the 57-acre former Sun Microsystems campus, dubbed “East Campus” (Highway 84 separates the two campuses). This month 500 employees transitioned to a renovated building on the East Campus where eight other buildings are being remodeled. As they are completed, they will be filled with up to 6,600 employees.

According to Facebook, the goal is to grow the company to 9,000 employees. The newly-announced 22-acre West Campus will help accommodate up to 2,800 workers with five buildings surrounding a central courtyard with a five-story parking deck.

Speaking of parking, Facebook will need lots of it. This isn’t a work-from-home culture. Facebook is based on a 10-hour day concept where employees are encouraged to work from 8:00am to 6:00pm and then go home to sleep. Facebook wants to tie the size of its permitted workforce to the number of rush-hour vehicle trips to the site. Nine-thousand employees will need to get to and from this new headquarters, so Facebook needs a transportation strategy.

“We seek to provide transportation options that are both efficient for our employees and friendly to the environment,” a spokesperson for Facebook explains to VentureBeat. “Over 40 percent of our employees participate in our transportation program, which provides many alternatives to driving to work by yourself.”

To get away from single-driver parking, Facebook will offer employees shuttles, free Caltrain passes and van pools. There will also be bike commuting. Actually, a surprising amount of bike commuting.

“We’re doing a lot to promote bicycle commuting as it’s an excellent, green initiative,” says the spokesperson. Facebook is encouraging bike commuters by having showers and towel service in every building. There will be lockers for commuters, bike shelters and even a loaner-bike program for employees considering bike commuting. Facebook’s new campus will have a bike shop with a “bike doctor” to help repair and solve bike issues.

Once Facebookers get to work, they won’t have to leave.

“We look to provide our employees with the best working environment possible,” says the spokesperson. At the new campus there will be two cafés serving three meals a day, a coffee shop, a fitness center, open pit BBQ, a taco shack, a pizza stand and a salad bar. There will also be a doctor’s office and a movie theater.

“Facebook strongly encourages a work/life balance with its employees,” adds the spokesperson. “This includes such benefits as 21 days of paid time off each year, the flexibility to work remotely, and unlimited sick days.”

In terms of perks at least, it sounds like Google will have some competition.


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