Juniper Rising

In California, on a trying piece of real estate with hidden obstacles, industry-leading networking firm Juniper Networks built a new headquarters incorporating the tech tools that have earned the company a valuation of $4.6 billion

Juniper Networks built its new headquarters campus at a former Lockheed Martin test facility. The company demolished structures carefully because of the defense contractor’s partially classified plans of the site.

Caveat emptor.

If there was any popular phrase Juniper Networks, Inc. should have bore in mind when acquiring a property once owned by aerospace, defense, and security company Lockheed Martin, it was that old Latin warning to prospective buyers. The tech firm needed the lot for its new headquarters, but it was quickly reminded that land once owned by a secretive government contractor is likely to come with some surprises.

At its loftiest, Juniper seeks to empower everyone in an increasingly connected world. The $4.6 billion company is well on its way, too, with offices in 46 countries that offer services in more than 100 countries, producing equipment and software that help power a majority of the world’s online networks and secure more than 86 percent of smartphone traffic in the United States. Before 2013, however, the company’s Sunnyvale, California, headquarters lacked key elements that would better allow Juniper to express its brand and its mission statement through its physical workspace.

So, John Lucas, Juniper’s vice president of global real estate and workplace services, teamed up with the company’s C-level executives to determine a vision for a new corporate campus, and he worked closely with the IT department to conceive a workplace that would reflect the company’s desire to innovate the network. What came out of this synergy was a set of four workplace principles that helped guide the design. “A workplace should be a showcase,” Lucas says, “and it should catalyze connections to happen in the workplace, support functionality [and] agility, and promote employee wellness and sustainability.” As a linchpin to these goals, Lucas and his team planned to run the new facility solely off of Juniper products, paving the way for scalability and future innovation.

John Lucas, Juniper Networks
“A workplace should be a showcase, and it should catalyze connections, support functionality [and] agility, and promote employee wellness and sustainability.”

John Lucas, VP of Global Real Estate and Workplace Services

 

Juniper Networks By the Numbers

$4.67 billion
in 2013 revenue

9,483 employees
as of December 31, 2013

More than 86%
of US smartphone traffic
is secured by Juniper

All of the top 100
service providers in the
world run Juniper products

620
US federal organizations
use Juniper products

7 of the world’s 8
largest stock exchanges
run Juniper products

2.4 million sq. ft.
total real estate that Juniper
operates in 111 locations

Juniper chose the former Lockheed Martin property as its development site, but before construction could begin, the company had to raze the lot’s existing buildings, some of which dated back to the 1930s. This was where the challenges truly began; during the demolition process, Juniper discovered that its supposedly complete and accurate records of the site were missing key information regarding underground utilities, some of which had not been installed according to code. In one instance, Lucas and his team discovered a 12 kV power feed just below surface level—one that should have been buried 15 feet underground. A worker was operating a scraper on some old curb edges and ended up shorting out the main power feed connected to the adjacent Onizuka Air Force Station, effectively shutting down its space shuttle tracking system midmission.

Juniper eventually remedied the situation, but the top secret and sensitive nature of Lockheed’s former weapons-development work at the site continued to make reliable information concerning the area’s underground facilities nonexistent. Another challenge arose when Juniper had to locate an underground pool once used to test Trident submarine missiles. Lockheed engineers knew the pool was there, but its coordinates and building documentation did not exist. Underground communication lines were not clearly catalogued, either, and had Juniper been less careful, it could have accidently knocked out communication for half of Sunnyvale. Luckily, through careful demolition, Lucas’s team was able to complete the process without further hiccups.

The new 635,000-square-foot corporate campus is anchored by two buildings—simply labeled Building A and Building B—that house the company’s executive briefing center, proof-of-concept labs, R&D engineering labs, R&D workplaces, and cafeteria. Building A boasts LEED Gold certification, and Building B has achieved LEED Platinum. Some of the LEED points came from Juniper’s successful recycling of construction materials—including 120 tons of concrete and asphalt—from the site’s former structures. The company’s sustainability efforts highlight its commitment not only to improving the economics of networked work environments but also to creating a healthy place for employees.

As a networking company and data-center-hardware manufacturer, Juniper must run energy-intensive computer labs constantly, so to combat its headquarters’ power and heat load, the company placed its labs toward the outer skin of each building, allowing them to take in outside air when temperatures are favorable. Such measures have helped Juniper reduce its campus electric bill by 30 percent during the facility’s first year of operation.

Perhaps the campus’s most-defining feature, though, is how it addresses workplace needs. By combining flexibility, customization, and bleeding-edge technology, Juniper was able to create spaces to meet the various needs of its employees, and different areas can be opened up or closed in with very little modification. The infrastructure also emphasizes simplicity, with elements such as video conferencing, desktop sharing, online chatting, and voice-over IP telephone communication all tied to one unified interface, which was patterned after Juniper’s consumer technology. It allows Juniper to showcase how its own networking products can help other companies.

“We want people to collaborate at a higher level,” Lucas says. This means increasing the number of connections individuals can have by building a more mobile work environment, which leads to more shared space and fewer dedicated desks. The new headquarters serves as a reminder of the company’s refined direction.

The corporate campus has the ability to expand to 10 buildings in total, but there are no immediate plans for further growth. Instead, Juniper is concentrating on taking the design already in place and consolidating other offices in the area into these two buildings. Most large corporate campuses have a benchmark transient vacancy of approximately 40 percent at any given point in the day, but Juniper wants to change this. “If you went into a restaurant and 40 percent of their seats were vacant, but the host says you can’t sit there because someone [else] is sitting there, just not right now, and this happened consistently day after day, what would you think?” Lucas asks. “Pretty inefficient restaurant, right?”

Juniper Networks HQ lobby
In the lobby of Juniper’s new executive briefing center is a hanging light display that acts as an interactive map of the world and will display bits of real-time data via a nearby touch screen.

In the lobby of the executive briefing center is an interactive art display that also functions as a striking physical manifestation of the power of Juniper and its network equipment. There’s a dramatic LED light sculpture—a series of slender, hanging lights that form a semiabstract map of the globe—and a visual interface that allows visitors to select icons representing different sets of data streams. One icon could be “earthquakes in the past 24 hours” or “current Internet traffic,” but touch it and it comes to life, revealing an interactive, changing heat map of the selected data.

“It’s taking the flow of information that’s actually traveling across the network today and elevating it,” Lucas says. It’s a symbol of what Juniper as a company hopes to accomplish—and what it has accomplished already at its new headquarters—with its leading infrastructure.

Juniper Networks HQ
The campus has the space for 10 buildings, but Juniper has only built two so far, referred to as Building A and Building B. It wants to push the limits of employee consolidation in the two structures before it looks to grow further.