The Commons

23 04 2009

Last Monday when I went to work, I was not aware that it’s the opening day of The Commons, the town center of Microsoft. In fact, much to my chagrin, I never even heard about it before. So, I was kind of caught off guard when one of my colleagues casually mentioned to me that some of our teammates are going to pay it a visit and whether I would be interested to join them. I agreed, feeling both curious and skeptical. It was a good thing that I did. 

It was a lovely sunny day, comfortably warm and cheerful. Special connector shuttles ran between various campuses and The Commons. There was one for every 10 minutes from our campus. When we got there, my first reaction was “Wow!”.

The Commons consists of various food destinations – restaurants and others, a spa ( :P), a few shops (We noticed a Ski Goods one), a full-size soccer field and a pub, which can supposedly be used only for group events and alcohol  is served only after 3pm. The complex even contains meeting spaces and conference rooms (we didn’t actually go into that part of the building).  There even was an Employee Art Exhibition, which was really amazing.

Also close to the complex are the Company Store, Studios and MS Library. The Commons is actually a part of the bigger, newly constructed extension of West Campus.  Heard that the campus includes the world’s largest underground parking, extending up to 5 or 6 levels down (with 5000 or so parking slots in total). 

We couldn’t tour the whole complex of The  Commons but we covered two buildings, interestingly called Mixer (Main and larger) and Submixer (smaller). As soon as we entered the Mixer, we were greeted by a nice, comfortable sitting area with a Surface PC (we tried it by playing some music on it) among the leather couches. 

There was also live music being played near the stage. Oh Yes, there was a stage on which various events are being held – a cooking show by Mayuri restaurant  (Yuppie! The Commons does include a Mayuri Restaurant, actually more spacious and elegant looking than the one in Bellevue) or some or the  other demo.  

Then there was this eating area between the buildings, overlooking the soccer field.  

Everything looked so new and sophisticated. 

I know I should have used some photographs instead of struggling to explain what all we saw. But, I forgot my mobile at home that day, which I regret a lot. 

I’m planning to go there again with other friends soon and I would definitely remember to carry my mobile (or camera) with me and take beautiful pictures, which I would upload here asap for your benefit. 

As it is, The Commons is open for only Microsoft employees. Of course for vendors and contractors too. That means, anyone with a MS card key can avail it.  However, an employee can take a guest along with him or her (I like this!). 

While it might seem unfair and illogical to have proceeded with this project spending huge amounts of money, while the company is simultaneously laying off thousands of employees, I think that the abandoning or postponing of a project of such magnitude will not have made things any better, considering the amount of money, time and effort already spent on it.  

Seattle Times ran a story on The Commons on Monday. It included a superficial picture of the complex. You can read the story  here .  

In case you are wondering what else we did beyond touring Mixer and Submixer? We just had Quincy burgers for lunch and returned to our respective offices 🙂

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