Something old, something new

Today I spent some time at the headquarters of Verizon in Basking Ridge, NJ. Some of you with long memories might remember this campus as the former headquarters of the once mighty AT&T.

It looks the same, yet not the same. Different logo at the entrance, some redecorating, a gloss over everything to add a bit of contemporary hipness. But underneath their new skin, these buildings have the same old bones.

This is my third such experience in about a week. Last week I paid my first visit to the Facebook campus in Palo Alto. The last time I had visited that campus it was still headquarters for Sun Microsystems, a fascinating and storied company which sadly is no longer with us.

Back in the Sun days the campus was very stark and no-nonsense, reflective of the serious tone of the company itself. Now it has all been made over to project a casual spirit of youthful fun, sort of the architectural equivalent of adding party balloons and a large Mexican hat.

Similarly, at the Google headquarters in Mountain View the other day, I knew I was walking into buildings that I had originally visited when that site was the headquarters of Silicon Graphics, back in its glory days. A few of the original buildings still remain, although Google has expanded the campus enormously.

Google didn’t even need to change the signature bright purple of the two formerly-SGI towers that loom over its campus. Their bold color scheme actually meshes perfectly with the playful architecture of Google’s other buildings.

Today as I was checking through security, the man behind the reception desk at Verizon asked me whether I had ever been there before. After a moment’s hesitation, I gave the most accurate reply I could: “Not since before this was Verizon.”

The man smiled. I am guessing he might have heard that response before.

Leave a Reply