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March 31, 2006

Building 21: Past, Present, Future

As part of transferring to the Engineering Excellence group, I moved to an office in Building 21.

A little history of the Microsoft campus. In the way old days, it was a mill. A generation ago, it was called Sherwood Forest and it was where kids from nearby Interlake High went to drink. Eventually it became an office park, which featured a database company called Microrim among its tenants. When Microsoft built its initial campus in 1986 (first 4 buildings, then 2 more), it chose a spot nearby. In the early 1990s Microrim moved out and its former building was rechristened Microsoft Building 21, with Human Resources as the first tenant. It's one of the few buildings that remain from the pre-Microsoft days, Buildings 19 and 20 being the others (the cluster known as East Tech, aka Buildings 12 through 15, were torn down to make way for Buildings 34 and 35).

So today Building 21 sits as a remnant of former times. Microsoft remodelled it a bit (adding relights to the offices, for example), but it retains its original design. In particular it isn't built up of long skinny wings like most Microsoft buildings, so there are true "inside" offices (ones where even the office across the hall isn't an outside office, which defeats the purpose of having the relight). Also large parts of the exterior wall don't have windows, so some of the "outside" offices have no window. There's no underground parking. The easiest way to get from the side door to the stairs is to cut through the lobby, and the easiest way to get from my office to the kitchen is to teleport through a wall. And there's no cafeteria in the building; Microsoft originally put in a mini-cafeteria, but now that's gone and you have to walk to 34, 16/17, or 25.

That's what it's like now. But heark, for change is in the offing. The Engineering Excellence team, in its neverending quest to be the omphalos of all that is progressive at Microsoft, has been chosen as one of the test sites for the new Workplace Advantage initiative at Microsoft. Which means that this summer, more or less, Facilities will swoop down, reciprocating saws in hand, tear down all our walls, and replace them with...well, with something else. Which I am too tired to write about now, but which I will discuss soon, I promise.

Posted by AdamBa at March 31, 2006 10:41 PM

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Microrim is such an awesome name for a company. Almost as good as Initrode.

Posted by: Deadprogrammer at April 1, 2006 07:42 AM

Oh, yeah. One of the best days of my life was the day I could tell all my friends I'd landed a Microrim job. True story...

Posted by: at April 1, 2006 02:18 PM

Does it bother you to have so many of your past entries being used to game search engines? Overlooking the obvious comment about MS and security issues, you might want to check back on the comments for the last two or three weeks. Hundreds and hundreds of fishy URLs.

Posted by: Just wondering at April 4, 2006 07:08 PM

What is a relight?

Posted by: at April 7, 2006 10:10 PM

Yes, I know I get lots of comment spam. But I would hate to turn on moderation. If I got off my (mental) keister I could presumably hack up the Perl to ignore comments that start with h1 or a tags (which would knock out most of them) but I haven't done so. So I have to clean them by hand, and when I go on vacation for a week (as I just did), they pile up.

A relight is a feature of Microsoft buildings -- it's a window in the wall between your office and the hall.

Incidentally I just got email saying they were going to repaint the exterior of Building 21, to make it more appealing (their words).

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at April 9, 2006 09:10 PM