Secret passages on Microsoft main campus, episode 2

As with most "secret passages" on campus, they aren't actually secret, but they are handy and not well known.

If you are trying to walk to the Building 43 cafeteria from the southwest, the usual route is to take the unnamed service road that runs between Building 43 and the highway, then go up the gravel emergency driveway that runs between buildings 43 and 44.

The secret way to get to the cafeteria is to enter the Building 43 parking garage via the small loading dock that sits opposite the pedestrian crossing.

Go up the stairs, and then turn left.

Look both ways before crossing the main driveway, and then continue through a tall, narrow passageway to another driveway.

Follow the second driveway, past the loud ventilation fans, and then you will see ahead and slightly to the right of you a wall painted purple with the message "Stairs to…" Follow that wall. (If you forget to turn, then you will continue through a second tall, narrow passageway to the large loading dock.)

After you turn the corner, you will see that the rest of the message reads "… Cafeteria." Follow the path down the slight ramp and use your cardkey to unlock the door at the end of the path.

When you go through that door, you will find yourself in the cafeteria, via a door that you probably didn't even know existed. (And the message on the purple wall is a lie: There are no stairs.)

This shaves a bit of distance off the outdoor route, but a major benefit is that this version is inside the parking garage, so even though it may not be indoors, at least it's covered, so you don't have to deal with the rain, and it's not quite as cold.

Comments (15)
  1. As I read “a major benefit is that this version is inside the parking garage, so even though it may not be indoors, at least it’s covered, so you don’t have to deal with,” my immediate thought was “the sun, and it’s not quite as hot.” California-like thinking detected.

    1. wyatt says:

      My thoughts were, “keeps you out of the snow”. Upper Midwest thinking.

  2. SimonRev says:

    I hope Building 43’s food is worth it, as it sounds like an epic journey either way!

    1. CarlD says:

      Last I was on campus (2010?), the food in building 43’s cafeteria was identical to the food in all the other cafeterias. Maybe things have changed.

    2. It’s not that Cafeteria 43’s food is any better than the others. But it’s the closest cafeteria to my building.

  3. Lars Viklund says:

    Now we know where to rig the hilarious traps!

  4. cheong00 says:

    In one of the place that I worked, there were only two passenger lifts for the whole building. Since we worked in the middle floors, it’s not uncommon to have to wait 15+ minutes until you can finally rush yourself into one of the lifts.

    However, if you’re willing to wait for 15 minutes before going to lunch, you can go to the cargo area and take a ride with the goods via the cargo lifts. (The cargo lifts needs a key inside to run, normal staffs don’t have it. The goods were scheduled to load to the vehicles about the same time every workday) So you save 10+ minutes to surf the web everyday instead of waste time waiting in the lobby, plus you don’t need to rush in the lift because the cargo lift is usually loaded only half full)

    1. Ian Yates says:

      I find that if a building has N floors (where N > 10 or so) and I’m roughly on floor N/2, and it’s busy (ie check-out time at a hotel), then it’s a lot faster to hit the “up” button, ride the lift up and then ride it back down, than it is to hit the down button and keep being hit with already-full lifts. You occasionally get a puzzled expression from the person at the highest floor wondering why you’re not hopping out but they quickly realise the method in the madness when they, and the 10-15 other people in the lift, make it impossible for people on floors 2, 3, 4, etc to go down to the ground floor.

      No such trick is available to help if you’re on the ground floor and wanting to go up, although at peak time for leaving (again, hotel check-out time) that’s not such a big issue.

      If I ever make it to the Microsoft campus one day (can you just visit and wander around the buildings?) I’ll definitely try this route just for kicks :D

      1. D-Coder says:

        It’s well known that if you are on a top floor trying to go down, elevator cabs are being trucked in at the basement, only go up, and are removed from the roof by helicopters.

        If you are on the first floor, cabs are being flown in to the roof by helicopters, only go down, and are trucked out at the basement.

  5. cheong00 says:

    Yup. This applies to MTR at peak hours as well.

    If you want to travel from “Island” line to “Tsuen Wan” line, you get off at “Admiralty” station, but instead of take the train at the opposite platform to “Tsuen Wan”, you go upstair to platform “Tsuen Wan” line towards “Central”, go to Central terminus and then travels back.

    1. French Guy says:

      Do you get to stay in the same train or do they make you get off? Either way, I guess you get on when the train’s pretty empty.

      1. cheong00 says:

        Stay at the same train, or it loses the purpose of intentionally travels backwards. :P

        And no, the train is not quite empty as there are plenty of people doing so. To give you the idea why, typically at rush hour if you change to Tsuen Wan line in normal way at peak hours, you have to wait for 3 trains (with train arrive in every 2 minutes) and the trains will be near fully packed when arrive the station. If there are control system malfunction so the trains reverted to manual control, or when someone hit the emergency button call for help, make the trains to wait 6.

        So if you want better control of time going home, usually at least you’ll have to go the “travel to Central terminus and change there” way.

  6. Ben says:

    This used to be my favourite route as well, except that I worked in 43 (but at the far southern end) so the benefit of going down to the basement was that it was all covered, and you don’t walk past other teams offices.

    I always wondered if it was that “slight ramp” that was the “stairs” mentioned on the wall. Or if it’s an affordance.

  7. PercyTierney says:

    When the old Safeco Insurance Company fortified complex was converted to Microsoft office space, much of the “planning for any sort of disaster including zombies and our customers wielding pitchforks” was kept.

    Microsoft Buildings 84, 85 and 86 are Glorious examples of neo-Stalinist brutalist architecture. 84 and 85 have two walls of Windows, fitting because some of the Windows teams worked there. Building 86 had no Windows, and was referred to as “the Gulag” (I heard a variety of terms for this squat, dark, near Window-less cube).

    There was a huge multi-level parking lot that ran under B84, 85 and 86, and internal car-free corridors that also ran the length the perimeter. During the Redmond Monsoon season, the wise choice to move between buildings was to go all “Dungeons and Dragons” to the first basement level, and then explore the corridors, which included some doors with card key access, and others not so much.

  8. gajamapataw says:

    Hey, I didn’t know Microsoft too has Street View.

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