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EBAY B17 AND THE WORKPLACE INITIATIVE

VALERIO DEWALT TRAIN


EBAY B17 AND THE WORKPLACE INITIATIVE

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

VALERIO DEWALT TRAIN ASSOCIATES 500 North Dearborn Chicago, Illinois 60654 424 Waverley Street Palo Alto, California 94301

EBAY V1 Photography © Jay Graham, Graham Photography EBAY V2 Photography © Steve Hall, Hedrich Blessing EBAY V3 Photography © David Wakely Photography © 2011 Valerio Dewalt Train Associates


WHAT’S INSIDE

INTRODUCTION

OUR APPROACH

VERSION 1

B17

VERSION 3


VDTA Office in Chicago, Il.


INTRODUCTION

Valerio Dewalt Train is a 50 person national architectural practice with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Palo Alto, California. Since 1996, the firm has based its practice on the simple idea that whatever the question, design is the answer. But we also believe that before you can provide an answer, you have to do the research to make sure you understand the question. As designers, we take a research-based approach to the design process; it is immersive, probing, and specific. We work with a wide range of clients: institutional, educational, corporate, retail, entertainment, hospitality, and developers, each client benefits from the cross-fertilization of ideas between these industries and as expressed by our URL, “build or die.com�. The result of our energetic approach is a series of remarkable projects often produced on very tight budgets and schedules for many notable organizations; from eBay, to the Kresge Foundation, the University of Chicago, and Lincoln Properties.


OUR APPROACH


Working on many levels the design team led the efforts to put in place entitlements for ten new buildings and 6,000 structured parking spaces.

Campus Master plan, created by VDTA


MASTERPLANNING

“eBay is the Walmart of the internet.” Meg Whitman, CEO Although true, this statement says less about eBay’s mission and more about Meg Whitman’s approach to management. eBay would innovate, change and grow quietly. The company would focus significant energy on making eBay a great workplace. B17, the recently completed building on the First Street Campus in San Jose was a milestone in the development of the workplace at eBay. The story began in 2003 when Valerio Dewalt Train was retained to masterplan the recently purchased Novell Networks Campus which was completed in 1999. Working on many levels the design team led the efforts to put in place entitlements for ten new buildings and six thousand structured parking spaces. Concurrently, the design team did a deep dive into the eBay culture to develop the research that would guide the design at all levels. The masterplan was developed as a sustainable community. Utilities were integrated in a coordinated infrastructure.

A

significant portion of the electrical energy would come from roof mounted arrays of photo voltaics. Building pads were designed to have the proper solar orientation and were designed with a shallow depth to achieve fully daylit interiors. The plan also anticipated the use of natural ventilation and evaporative cooling to reduce energy demand. The core of the campus would be a pedestrian zone uninterrupted by vehicular traffic.


Existing eBay Campus.


RESEARCH PROCESS

At the same time, working with the workplace productivity

What would be your ideal mix of work time in each of the following locations?

consultant Future of Work, an extensive survey was made of how

Residence Other

eBay utilized their offices. Conferencing, workstation function and the use of amenities were all monitored to fully understand

65%

where the staff spent their day. Drawers and cabinets were

58%

opened to discover what was really stored in all these places. In addition, during this research phase key stakeholders were interviewed about the design of the workplace and the campus. The most important of these interviews was with Meg

28% 22%

Whitman.

26% 17%

The CEO offered a unique vision of what the design team needed Zero

1-10%

11-20%

21-30%

41-50%

More than 50%

to achieve. In her view eBay was transitioning from an entrepreneurial

How many hours per week do you typically work in each of the following locations?

company to a mature corporation. In the past, each employee understood eBay’s mission and ethic. The company is much

Residence Other

more than the Walmart of the internet, it is about enabling their users, it is an attitude. This was the DNA of the company, when there were only a few employees it could be handed off from

61% 60%

person to person. But in this transition, Meg saw that all this could be lost as the staff grew into the thousands.

47% 39%

Her solution was design. She felt that architecture had both the potential and the power to communicate the eBay DNA to the

25%

new generations of employees that would come to work for the company. In this sense, she saw the new campus in the same way an institution of higher education sees their campus; it is

8% Zero

1-10%

11-20%

21-30%

41-50%

Workplace utilization research.

More than 50%

an embodiment of the shared memories that help them define their community of students, faculty, and alumni.


VERSION 1


Rolling Pin Conference Room

Over a two year period all of the buildings were gutted and converted to an open office plan. The interiors were populated with thousands of low-price items purchased through eBay’s online marketplace.


REUSE OF THE NOVELL CAMPUS

The six buildings of the Novell Campus included 600,000 sf of office space, predominantly divided into 10 X 12 private offices. Over a two year period all of the buildings were gutted and converted to an open office plan. At this time, eBay was principally an online marketplace. In those days, each building was named after one of the marketplace categories; toys, fashion, house and garden, jewelry, and the like. eBay Version 1, would populate the office interiors with thousands of the low price items that could be found online. In the “House and Garden” building the “Rolling Pin” conference room would feature lots of rolling pins. To Meg, this approach perfectly captured the value, the playfulness and the culture of the company.

Existing Novell Campus.


B17


Big Brother

First Cousin

Second Cousin


BIG BROTHER, FIRST COUSIN, AND SECOND COUSIN

Concurrently with the reuse project, planning was underway for B17, the first new building on the eBay campus. Immediately the big question became, what would the seventh building on

Immediately the big question became, what would the seventh building on campus look like. The working group agreed that we would prepare three alternate designs.

the campus look like? How much influence should the Novell architecture have on the new building? The older buildings reflected a very different mindset. The exterior skin was a richly detailed mosaic of granite, glass and aluminum panels. The interiors featured wood paneling, stainless and glass railings and stone finishes in many locations. This was not the aesthetic of the Walmart of the Internet. In response the working group agreed that we would prepare three alternate designs. The first was “Big Brother” so named because B17 would be a five story building vs. the three and four story height of the existing campus. The second and third alternates were nicknamed “First Cousin” and “Second Cousin” which departed more and more from the precedent as the names imply. In the end eBay decided they were more comfortable with “Second Cousin” which departed dramatically from the precedent. While precast replaced stone, the punched window pattern was retained for the east and west elevations to decrease solar exposure; and a broad panel of punched openings was used on the north elevation as an extension of the similar pattern on the two adjacent buildings. In a number of similar design decisions the new building distanced itself from the existing campus, but still preserved some connections so that it maintained a vague familiarity with its context.


Building 17 distanced itself architecturally from the existing campus, but still preserved some connections, such as these punched openings seen here on the north facade.


Precast concrete and glazing clad Building 17.


Cafe 17 glowing at night.


Bloom Energy fuel cells, seen outside Building 17 provide an additional 12% of power to the eBay Campus.


EVOLVING SUSTAINABLE STRATEGIES

In 2003, the design team presented LEED as an option to eBay. Eight years ago the USGBC and the LEED accreditation system were only four years old and not widely recognized. Initially there was little interest, even though eBay embraced the sustainable strategies embedded in the campus plan on their merit as good design and good facility management. In the end, Valerio Dewalt Train registered the building at our

LEED was only four years old and not widely recognized. In the end we registered the building at our own expense.

own expense. Two years later in one of the executive design reviews, one of our eBay stakeholders asked about LEED emphasizing that they thought B17 should be accredited. Before the facility director could answer, Joe Valerio announced that the building had been registered before schematic design began. The executive team was pleased and the facility director was relieved. In the end the building contains a wide range of strategies which led to a LEED Gold certification. This included earning every available point for indoor air quality – a critical concern for eBay. Many of these strategies were anticipated in the masterplan and some that were added as part of the planning for this building. The building uses a daylight harvesting system with automated shades to daylight the interior. A number of strategies were used to reduce energy consumption, including the design of a Building Automation System which has an intuitive user interface. eBay staff can log onto the system and monitor the operation of their

Solar Photovoltaic cells are seen on the roof of Building 17.

office space on their computer or their handheld device. The commitment to renewable energy increased dramatically. A 650 kW PV array provides 15% of the power to not just B17 but for the entire campus of seven buildings. Five Bloom Energy fuel cells were added that provide an additional 15% of the power for the campus. These cells are powered by natural gas and exhaust water vapor and carbon dioxide. The use of this new technology led to B17 being featured on “60 Minutes,” the respected CBS program.


SHAPING THE WORKPLACE

Since the campus re-use project, eBay as a company had evolved into more than its core business as an online marketplace. As a result eBay V1 transitioned into eBay V2. Version 2 featured workstations which were much more open, with a significant reduction in storage including the elimination of all the overhead cabinets. The interior environment was still playful, but was more abstract relating more strongly to the building as a whole. Emphasizing the commitment to sustainable design, in each of the seventy conference rooms, a graphic panel describes a different sustainable strategy with photographs, diagrams and a narrative. These strategies include those used in the building and many more.

B17 is a building that bears a comfortable yet vague connection with the older buildings on the campus.

The architecture of the building is based on a regular structural bay; 30’ in width, and 40’ in depth between the exterior curtain wall and the wall of the building core. The broad all glass north and south elevations are punctuated by projecting bays and inset slots that strategically expose and express the regular grid of round columns and floor plates. The east and west elevations are split in the middle by the fire stair which is flooded with sunlight from a full height all glass panel encouraging people to walk from floor to floor. At first glance these elevations appear to be just a broad expanse of precast concrete. But at second glance, these end walls have an unexpected twist – reflecting one of Meg Whitman’s comments that eBay should always surprise people. B17 is a building that bears a comfortable yet vague connection with the older buildings on the campus. But in its sculptural expression of its façade on all four elevations it reflects the DNA of eBay; it is surprising and innovative.

The interiors have matured since V1 yet still allow for a fun workplace.


B17 First Floor Plan

3 6

4

1

5

2

4

7

1 Cafeteria 2 Servery 3 Fitness Center 4 Locker Room

5 Main Lobby 6 Conference Room 7 Data Center

B17 Third Floor Plan 2 2 2

1

2 2

2

2

2

2

2

2

1

3

2

3

2

2 3

1 Open Office 2 Conference Room 3 Informal Collaboration Space

2

1

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

3 1

2 2 2


Graphic installations are found in conference rooms providing information on the building’s sustainable features.


A large fitness center looks out onto the eBay campus.


Bright colors and natural light fill the interior space at B17.


VERSION 3


The office space in V3 is much more open and provides for various spaces to work alone, on a team project or to make presentations.


EPILOGUE

With the new CEO, John Donahoe, the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration at eBay has increased dramatically. In 2009, Workplace Resources and Valerio Dewalt Train began the development of a new initiative to align the workplace with the company as it continues to evolve. Panels have almost disappeared entirely, the size of workstations continued its

A new initiative to align the workplace with the company as it continues to evolve.

steady decline, while the number, size and configuration of teaming spaces have increased. The new Workplace Initiative was rolled out in early 2011, and will be implemented over time throughout the two San Jose campuses, including B17. Over the years of her leadership, her real estate strategies were truly financially prudent. But beginning in 2003 she began to realize that the company had grown far beyond her dreams and those of the founders.

eBay was becoming a mature

corporation. No longer could she take the time to talk to new employees communicating the entrepreneurial spirit and the corporate DNA in each new hire. On a series of office interiors she worked with the design team to use to built environment to educate the people of eBay about the meaning of the company and its spirit. In 2003, eBay purchased a 500,000 sf campus from Novell Networks, with significant additional land which allowed the design team to obtain entitlements for an additional 1.5M sf of space.


WPI Plan Diagram


In 2004 work began on the first new building eBay had ever built. What was an appropriate architecture for this upstart company? Through a series of brainstorming meetings, a team of executives led by the architects focused on eBay’s global responsibilities. The focus of the new building would be twofold – to create a truly 21st Century work environment, and to make this building as eco-friendly as possible. But the building also needed to have that eBay attitude – in response the building is purposely mannerist, it takes the expected Silicon Valley architecture and twists it into something entirely new. At the same time, it is registered with LEED and will be submitted for a Gold Rating. But in the end, it is a place where people like to go to work.


Elisa Dennis

Philip Miller

Noelle Wilhite

VALERIO DEWALT TRAIN ASSOCIATES 500 North Dearborn Chicago, Illinois 60654 424 Waverley Street Palo Alto, California 94301

Š 2011 Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Jami Primmer

Brian Fox

Veronica Widholm


Mark Nagis

Antonio Caliz

Sandra Robison

Kyle Reynolds

Rebecca Raup

Keryn Means


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