Abandoned Sun Microsystems building photo-tour

Abandoned But Not Forgotten has a beautiful photo-gallery of shots from an urban spelunking expedition into an abandoned Sun Microsystems building filled with haunted server rooms and rotting technology. Link (via Waxy)


  1. Los Altos was closed in 1998 or ’99 if my Sun history serves me. Sun had a massive jitter after riding high on the dotcom boom, with the next quarter’s results some ridiculous amount down, which lead them to make staff take a month’s unpaid vacation in July ’99 and started them off on a rationalisation track which ended with most people working away from the office apart from when necessary. The same happened in the UK: they still hold onto their main campus in Camberley although it’s mostly empty when you visit these days. I guess Los Altos was finally deemed to be surplus to requirements once that everyone was working from home. I wonder when the shooting was though…

  2. My first job out of college in 1997 was with Sun working in this building. It was known then as PAL01 and served as the company headquarters while I was there. (I once ran into Scott McNealy in the bathroom.)

    I am shocked to see these pictures and the state of the building. My memories of it were that it was always clean and bright. It also had the best food of all the Sun cafeterias. Several of the pictures show the remains of the customer “showroom” datacenter. It was the most organized and clean datacenter I ever saw. No more.

    When this building closed, the rumors were that it was donated to the city of Palo Alto. I am not sure if this is true or not.

  3. Remember when Sun was doing so well, and Apple so badly, that there was talk of the former buying the latter?

  4. It’s also likely it was used as a location for law enforcement training once it was given to the city. i know of several similar buildings scheduled for demolition that were used by LE trainers prior to their destruction.

  5. Seeing those tiny offices with that white and purple furniture brings back a lot of memories.

    Like with #2, I always remembered that as a very nice, clean, bright building. The customer showroom was very cool, and they had the first SPARC (serial #3 if I recall) on display there. The company store was there, too.

    The last couple exterior shots, you can clearly see Scott McNealy’s office (5th floor, “bay” part on the right side of the building — Google Images for “Scott McNealy’s Office”).

    Working at Sun in the mid 90s as a contractor, I spent a lot of time at that building. It’s totally nuts to see how much it’s declined since then.

  6. That building was demolished a month or two ago. Now there is a massive construction project on the site. They are building a large campus for Jewish housing and a community center.

  7. I used to work in PAL-1 back when it was indeed Sun’s corporate HQ — some minor corrections.

    Sun sold the site to “Campus for Jewish Life”, a Jewish Community Center back in 2002. By then, Sun had built out major campuses in Menlo Park and Santa Clara, and it was no longer corporate HQ; the flag had moved to the Santa Clara campus (home of the former Agnews State Hospital; insert irony here). PAL-1 was by then basically too small and kind of remote from the main campuses, and since the company was in full-fledged post-dot-com shrink, selling it was the obvious thing to do.

    The building was not abandoned by Sun while it was owned by them; that all happened after the sale.

    Sun *never* has had a “take an unpaid month off” event. That’s a conflation in two directions from the reality, which is that for a few years around that time, they asked employees to use a week of their vacation time in the first week of July. So it was more of a co-ordinated vacation (I referred to it as “Mandatory Fun Week”) on a week most people took off anyway, and Sun could realize savings by reducing facilities services during that week. Beats laying even more people off, don’t you think?

    The pictures no longer seem to be on the site — anyone know if they’re around somewhere else?

    By the way, this is my first visit to Boing Boing, so I thought I’d mention I just bought “Little Brother” for my son for his 16th birthday. (And of course so I could read it myself…). Good stuff!

  8. Oh, and as of this evening at least, there are 300 more employees at the Camberley site than worked there 7 years ago, according to a nameslist I have squirreled away from 2001. I don’t know if it’s kosher to give the exact current figure, but it’s more than 1,000 and less than 5,000.

    Obsessive, moi?

  9. And one more oh — I just noticed that the current Google Maps / Google Earth image catches the building in mid-teardown. In this image Scott’s old office is still intact — the top floor of the bulge on the bottom.

    http://tinyurl.com/ncfmz9 — if they’ve updated it since I posted this, look at the July 2007 image of the same location in Google Earth.

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