Silicon Valley making move downtown

Big tech companies are increasingly moving to urban downtowns.

Silicon Valley has been the undisputed place to be for tech companies for years. But the suburban office parks that are the dominant office developments in the area are falling out of vogue among tech companies.

Instead, James Russell writes at Bloomberg, big tech companies are looking to have more of a presence in urban downtowns.

Yelp, Twitter, Salesforce, and Zynga have snatched up office space in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood. Google has a new $1.9 billion office in New York City. Amazon built a new urban headquarters on the outskirts of downtown Seattle.

With this urban land grab among tech companies wouldn't it make sense to build more skyscrapers? Russell says it's not that easy:

Skyscrapers would be the obvious solution since they were invented to house lots of people on scarce urban land. Agile, fast-growing companies don’t like today’s skyscrapers. They are looking for artisanal food and an informal, sociable workplace, not grand lobbies, endless rows of cubicles and wood-paneled smugness.

Of course, space is limited and expensive in these urban hot spots. So some suburban communities in Silicon Valley are looking entice tech companies to stay put by bringing the amenities of an urban downtown to the suburbs. But the designs haven't been perfected.

The siren song of downtown lures 21st-century business, but cities haven’t yet figured out how to meld suburban advantages with urban energy. It’s time some savvy designers and companies reinvented both the skyscraper and the office park.

Calling all designers and planners, this is your 21st century challenge.

Photo: Flickr/Thomas Hawk

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