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Google dreams BIG, unveils game-changing new HQ

Google dreams BIG,
unveils game-changing new HQ

by ROB McMANAMY | March 3, 2015

When the name of your company stems from a word that means one to the hundredth power, people expect you to do things, well, bigger than anyone else. Even with that great expectation already out there, Google Inc. still managed to blow everyone's minds last week when it unveiled the groundbreaking design for its wild, new headquarters complex in Mountain View CA.

"Tech really hasn't adopted a particular language for buildings," says David Radcliffe, an engineer and Google's VP of real estate and workplace services. "We've just found old buildings... moved into them and made do, the best we could... We have the opportunity (now) to build new buildings... to take a step back, and say 'How do buildings work with nature?'"

Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels

After a global search for "a special architect" who could best answer that question, the global search engine actually found two, believing the pair's combined efforts would yield unique results even greater than the sum of its parts. So, Google has teamed Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) of Copenhagen with London-based Heatherwick Studio to design a sprawling, 3.4-million-sf tech campus that aims to be as flexible and eco-friendly as it is unconventional and, well, neighborly. 

Stressing flexibility, naturally

Thomas Heatherwick

Thomas Heatherwick

On Friday, when Google presented its plans to the Mountain View City Council, it also posted an explanatory statement on its official blog. "The idea is simple," the statement read. "Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight, block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas. (Our self-driving car team, for example, has very different needs when it comes to office space from our Search engineers.) Large translucent canopies will cover each site, controlling the climate inside, yet letting in light and air. With trees, landscaping, cafes, and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature."

How much of the master plan actually comes to fruition will depend largely on how receptive the City Council is to proposals from its biggest resident. The New York Times reported last week that the plan actually "was likely to aggravate an increasingly testy relationship between the company and community leaders who fear [it] is overrunning their small city. When Google moved there 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."

For now, though, let's all take a look at Google's BIG idea... (Heatherwick's, too!)

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