Tech companies can be notoriously tight-lipped about the goings-on in their headquarters, but Meta is eager to keep all eyes on the art adorning its forthcoming office in New York City’s James A. Farley Building. The landmark Beaux-Arts structure, which leased space to the Facebook parent company in 2020, is also home to the city’s main United States Postal Service branch and the gleaming new Moynihan Train Hall, a light-filled transit hub home to public artworks by luminaries like Kehinde Wiley and Elmgreen & Dragset.
Meta’s new office picks up right where Moynihan left off, infusing three lobbies and a central atrium across 700,000 square feet with ambitious site-specific artworks by such emerging and established artists as Baseera Khan, Liz Collins, and Matthew Kirk. Each piece responds to the site’s history, paying tribute to the Indigenous communities and natural landscapes that inhabited the space long before a building ever stood there. “The commissions for the Farley Building are some of our most ambitious to date,” says Tina Vaz, head of arts activation arm Meta Open Arts, noting how several of the artworks will be on view to the public.
Since rebranding from Facebook Open Arts this year, Meta Open Arts has been busy securing high-profile partnerships in the cultural realm with ICA San Francisco, the New Museum’s New Inc. incubator, and Rashaad Newsome’s Assembly installation at the Park Avenue Armory. The program was initially founded as a residency that tapped artists to create work for Meta’s headquarters, but soon evolved into a collaborative effort between artists and product teams to infuse the company’s suite of social media apps—Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp—with experiential artworks. Below, all the art in Meta’s new office:
Branching throughout a four-story skylit atrium is Timur Si-Qin’s monumental Sacred Footprint, an arboreal suspended sculpture based on the Tree of Life. To create the piece, the German and Chinese-Mongolian artist 3D-scanned vulnerable tree species in the Catskills and Adirondacks and composed them into digital models. He translated them into a physical sculpture through 3D printing, mold-making, metal casting, and painting, shedding light on nature’s majestic details and calling for responsibility toward technology and the environment.
Another monumental piece comes courtesy of Baseera Khan, who reimagines the Corinthian column as a symbol of imperialist power. (The columns, originating from the Roman Empire, adorn the facades of government buildings, banks, and museums throughout the Western world.) The hollowed-out structure is wrapped in handmade silk rugs created by artisans in Kashmir, a Muslim-majority disputed territory between India and Pakistan that once fell under the rule of British colonizers. Honoring the traditions of Kashmiri craft, Khan enlarged the patterns onto a hand-painted mural nearby.
Despite growing up on opposite sides of the country, artist couple Esteban Cabeza de Baca and Heidi Howard both share a deeply rooted respect for the natural world. It’s evident in the duo’s series of plein air–inspired paintings, Nature Remembers Love, that help bring the main lobby to life. Across multiple canvases, they depict the natural terrain of New York State, rendering mountain vistas, snow-covered trees, fields of flowers, and native wildlife across four seasons and throughout time.
Visible to passersby in the Moynihan Train Hall’s waiting area is Liz Collins’ vibrant ode to New York roadways and street signage. The Brooklyn fiber artist mined patterns from the chaotic cityscape to create zigzag-striped textiles created on a Jacquard loom, a 19th-century weaving apparatus considered a predecessor to modern computing. Each pattern adorns padded panels affixed to aqua- and eggplant-colored walls, allowing the Ring Lobby (one of many in the building) to buzz with the city’s undying energy.
Matthew Kirk’s “weaving” paintings, two of which adorn the Farley South Lobby, mimic the grid structures of the Navajo rugs of his heritage, but use materials woven through a steel rebar grid as the ground for their hundreds of small paintings. Referencing everything from the Navajo language to superheroes and post-industrial landscapes, the constellation of imagery nods to the Farley Building’s newfound identity as a communication hub.