Microsoft Silicon Valley

Nestled low into the landscape, Microsoft’s updated campus, which will house over 2,000 employees in 644,000 square feet, augers a new kind of workplace — in form, function, aesthetic, and connection — that is first and foremost about the wellbeing and symbiosis of people and place. Envisioned as a mesh of natural and built habitats, Microsoft Silicon Valley (MSV) is quiet, intimate, and foundational — a place where serious people can do serious work. At two stories, with an expansive, occupiable living roof, MSV is organized around a series of courtyards that invite sunlight and fresh air into every workspace, while creating a latticework village of connected indoor / outdoor social spaces and amenities specifically tuned to support Microsoft’s unique culture. Employees will be just as likely delight in their individual workspaces — light-filled spaces crafted of unadorned, honest materials like wood and concrete that look onto vegetated courtyards — as they will the rooftop eateries, fitness amenities, and trails leading out to the nearby creek. That’s because an “inside-out” approach to design started with respect for the most singular, individual experience of being a creative at Microsoft. This “inside -out” design strategy, and the “Courtyards” scheme that grew out of it, was the result of a deep investigation into the heart of Microsoft. The design team found that the workspace proper — where most Microsoft employees work in highly focused dyads — warranted significant attention and investment to support comfort, inspiration, productivity, and community.

Inspired by the dense, mixed-use neighborhoods of great walkable cities, the Courtyards organizational concept for MSV generates a human-scaled experience of discovery and prospect in which people are invited to wander through alleyways, up staircases, around outdoor decks, and along the roof’s many pathways. Amenities include dispersed and differently scaled gathering areas, recreation zones, food and beverage stops, a café overlooking Stevens Creek in which the whole campus can gather, and a public tech center that houses galleries and a theater. The surrounding landscape, living roof, and courtyards work in tandem as an ecologically restorative transition between the natural and built environments — one in which both habitat and people can thrive.

With sustainability and resiliency woven into every aspect of design, the project is targeting LEED Platinum, Net Zero Water per the Living Building Challenge, and Well Building Standard certification. While landscaping on the project site will increase by 1/3 and support a 40% increase in population, water demand will be reduced by 69%. The project has been designed to ensure that 100% of its non-potable demand will be offset by a recycled water system that reclaims, treats, and re-uses rainwater, stormwater, greywater, and blackwater for the project and building site. Through a variety of water-efficient technologies, landscape restoration and the minimizing of wasteful interdependence between water and energy, the project has the potential to be Living Building Challenge Net Positive Water contributing back to the local depleted ecology.

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