Some Thoughts On Google’s Bay View Campus

Last week I was disheartened to find out that Vanity Fair got the scoop on the recently proposed Google Bay View Campus. I’ll assume that they misdialed my phone number and got someone at VF and just decided to break the news to them instead.

Even though the article had a lot on interesting information – and describes the campus as being roughly 1.1 million square feet, made up of 9 buildings, and arranged in such a way that no one is more than 2.5 minutes from anyone else – I wanted more.

Where is ‘Bay View’?

After doing some investigating, it seems that the campus will be located on roughly 42 acres of Moffett Federal Airfield – nearby many other Google buildings and just over Stevens Creek. According to 2011 planning documents:

Screen shot 2013-02-26 at 11.04.07 AM“In 2002, NASA Ames completed a comprehensive plan… for building a world-class, shared-use research and development campus in association with government entities, academia, industry and nonprofit organizations. The [plan] divided the NASA Ames Moffett Airfield into four planning districts– NASA Research Park, Ames Campus, Eastside/Airfield and Bay View.

In 2008, Google, doing business as Planetary Ventures, became one of NASA’s partners and executed and enhanced use lease for construction of a campus in the Bay View district. This lease is for approximately 42 acres or up to 1.2 million square feet of office space, housing and support services.”

If you’re into planning documents, I suggest checking it out as there is additional information on expected tax revenues, proposed infrastructure upgrades, etc.

Different Architects, Similar Visions

Vanity Fair mentions that German architect Christoph Ingenhoven was originally slated to build Google’s new campus, though in a different section of town, closer to Google’s current Headquarters. Through Google’s briefings, the building was planned to be “the healthiest building in the world”, house nearly 3000 engineers, and offer a communicative, flexible, and effective workplace environment.

The chosen designer, Seattle-based NBBJ, carries out some of those ideas through its design. VF notes:

“The bent rectangles are arranged to form large and small courtyards, and several of the buildings have green roofs. All of the structures are connected by bridges, one of which will bring people directly to one of the green roofs that has been done up with an outdoor café and gathering space. And cars, the bane of almost every suburban office complex, including the Googleplex, are hidden away”

Before finally selecting NBBJ, according to another document [PDF], Google was also in communication with William McDonough+Partners. Though less radical, its drawings suggest greenscaped roofs, solar panels, and a quad-like style to encourage exterior interaction.

Google Housing?

I wrote an article several months ago pondering the idea of companies creating live/work campuses. At the time, it seemed like a fairly rational idea given both the move by many companies to urban centers and their building urbanized corporate parks.

It seems like there is room for the idea, and that Google might be considering something of the sort with this new campus.

As noted earlier, the NASA Bay View park accommodates space for housing – and a Seattle Times article from 2010 all but outright states that Google would be providing housing for employees:

“In addition to buying and leasing buildings and squeezing out some of its neighbors, it is prodding the city of Mountain View to transform the area around its headquarters, adding housing and retail to create an environment more like a town center….

…Documents detailing the NASA project, made available under the federal Freedom of Information law, have been redacted to remove details such as how many Googlers would live and work at its Ames Research Center.”

Google’s Bay View campus is planned to be completely built by 2015. Here’s large look at the drawing recently released by NBBJ (click to zoom):