Google Unveils New Mountain View Campus

There are many adjectives to describe the architectural plans for Google’s proposed Mountain View campus:

Environmentally sensitive

Much more than the office buildings of old, progressive Google architects Thomas Heatherwick and Bjarke Ingels are taking the campus to new heights with a simple, multi-configuration and environmentally conscious design that incorporates nature and community.

Spread across four parcels of land in the highly coveted North Bayshore district between highway 101 and the San Francisco Bay, the 3.4 million square feet of office space will be enclosed beneath a number of translucent, undulating ‘bio-domes’ that invite light, air and unobstructed views of the unique campus. Constructed of lightweight, block-like formations, the offices can be modified and reconfigured to fit the company’s changing requirements. Surrounding and connecting the bio-domes are community gardens, streams and meadows, biking and running paths and a public plaza offering retail and dining options. Included in Google’s plans are approximately $200 million in community enhancements that include a new police station, a pedestrian bridge over highway 101, preserving and enhancing local habitats as well as offsetting their personal energy consumption by utilizing renewable energy sources. In Google’s own words, they ‘aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature’.

Google submitted their futuristic architectural plans to the city on February 27th along with high-tech contenders LinkedIn and Microsoft and large commercial developers, all hoping to get a piece of Mountain View’s North Bayshore pie. Back in the 1970’s, the majority of its 500-acres was farmland and the dump was its main occupant. Since then, it has become the epicentre of high-tech.

Google’s current corporate headquarters referred to as the “Googleplex” is located at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, previously the home of Silicon Graphics (SGI). The 2 million square foot campus is a local tourist attraction with it’s primary color décor, significant green space, athletic fields, quirky sculptures based on the Android operating system, colorful cruisers to bike from one part of the ‘Plex to another, public works of art and organic gardens that supply vegetables for the multitude of cafes. In keeping with Google’s desire to contribute to energy efficiency, there are on-site charging stations for electric vehicles and carport solar panels to help offset their carbon footprint. It’s situated within a 26-acre site that includes the 5-acre Charleston Park and access to Shoreline Park and the San Francisco Bay Trail, the office complex was built on what was previously a working farm. In 1994 when SGI worked with the City and planning department to construct the campus, it was a noteworthy exodus from the typical corporate complex because of its forward-thinking co-mingling of public and private space. This earned it the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Centennial Medallion in 1999, awarded to notable designs once every hundred years.

Google, ranked #1 for the sixth year running on Fortune’s Great Places to Work list, must patiently await the outcome of the ‘Battle for North Bayshore’ and it’s techno-modifiable complex, both in the hands of Mountain View’s planning department.