Google unveils plans for futuristic new headquarters

The search giant joins several other Silicon Valley companies with audacious new digs in the works.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

Google on Friday unveiled plans for an expansion to its corporate campus in Mountain View, Calif. Google

Google's corporate headquarters may get even more Google-y.

The search giant on Friday submitted a plan to local officials to expand its offices in Mountain View, Calif., with a whimsical design that incorporates sweeping translucent canopies and glass walls.

The company, which has become known for out-there projects like self-driving cars and Wi-Fi-beaming balloons, is planning to build on four sites in the city. The buildings will have flexible, movable elements that the company can tailor to different projects.

"Our self-driving car team, for example, has very different needs when it comes to office space from our search engineers," Google said in a blog post Friday.

The new site underscores the tech industry's explosive expansion -- in influence, economic power, and now, real estate. Google's quirky design rivals the audacious planned headquarters of its biggest competitors. Facebook's new campus is designed by world-famous architect Frank Gerhy and looks like a sprawling forest. Apple's new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., will be constructed like a giant circle and has been dubbed iSpaceship.

The new site will have translucent canopies and glass walls. Google

Friday was the last day to submit plans for major building projects in Mountain View's North Bayshore technology district, which surrounds Google's main offices. LinkedIn is also expected to submit a building proposal for the district.

Google also said the expansion will include retail space and bike paths. The company said the design will try to revitalize the existing environment by widening creek beds and enhancing habitats for burrowing owls, which live underground in the area.

The expansion would cover 3.4 million square feet across the four sites, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal. The company is aiming for the first of the four sites to be completed by 2020. It's still unclear how much the expansion will cost, but Google can afford it -- the company currently has more than $64 billion in cash and short-term investments.

It's also unclear how Mountain View's city council will act on the proposal. Randy Tsuda, the city's community development director, said he hadn't yet seen the plans. The next step will be an initial review of all the various proposals during a meeting in late April, said Tsuda.

One concern for the city is a lack of new housing in the proposal. But Google has said in the past that it would like to add housing near the campus. To entice city officials, Google has also proposed a $200 million public benefits package, according to the Business Journal. The plan includes things like a new public safety building and a bike bridge across nearby highway 101.

For the project, Google worked with architecture firms Heatherwick Studio, based in the United Kingdom, and Denmark-based Bjarke Ingels Group.

"We have set out to imagine the work environments of future Googlers to be as adaptable, flexible and intelligent as the rest of Google's wide spanning portfolio," Bjarke Ingels Group said in an email.