Google’s plan for futuristic headquarters raises hopes and concern

By | February 28, 2015

Google is moving into Silicon Valley headquarters that look like a spaceship just landed from a science fiction movie. After Facebook has expanded its campus with a new building designed by Frank Gehry, its Google’s turn now. The company is submitting plans to develop four sites in Mountain View’s Noth Bayshore.

Google's new headquarters

The plan, which was created by a Danish architect Bjarke Ingels at BIG and Thomas Heatherwick at Heatherwick Studio in London, includes glass canopies to allow light and air into the building, according to the 225-page document. The additional 2.5 million square feet of office space would be enough for 12,000 more Google employees.

Only a futuristic multi-billion dollar company like Google would consider being able to physically move a building – but it’s one of the cornerstones of the project. What’s more radical is that these mammoth structures are modular. Small cranes and robots will be part of the corporate buildings by moving around floors, walls and ceilings in just few hours.

Glass canopy design

Glass canopy design

Under the glassĀ  canopies, lightweight block-like structures that compromise rooms can be re-arranged like pieces of furniture, allowing Google to seamlessly adjust to its staffing needs. While the buildings will increase Google’s office square footage, the plan is also open the campus up to the community to create a lively neighbourhood feel with retail, restaurants and bicycle paths.

“We’re really making sure that we make spaces very open and accessible so it’s just not for Googlers, but it’s for anyone who lives in the area to come by,” David Radcliffe of Google said in the video. Mountain View City Councilman Lenny Siegel told ABC News he is concerned about the traffic flow in Mountain View and the housing supply — two factors he will have to consider as he evaluates Google’s plan.

So far, the project has not been made public, but has been discussed only with members of the City Council. This is likely to aggravate an increasingly testy relationship between the company and the community leaders who fear the company is overrunning their small city. When Google moved here in 1999, it had a dozen employees and a search engine known only to computer aficionados. Now, its 20,000 local employees make it the biggest employer in a city that is bursting at the seams.

Still some locals aren’t thrilled about tech giants grabbing more space. Two small business owners in Mountain View opened up on a condition of anonymity expressed concern they would essentially be “pushed out” because they can’t keep pace with rising real estate costs.Meanwhile, a group of residents who identify themselves politically asĀ “residentialists” favor slower real estate growth and building smaller buildings to preserve Palo Alto’s quality of life. Three residentialists serve on the Palo Alto City Council today.

Obviously, their views don’t exactly jive with the tech industry, which often emphasizes speed and innovation. For Google, the message from its proposal is clear: Bring on the canopies.