Editors' pick: Originally published March 10.
Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google received approval from Mountain View, Calif., city officials to break ground on its new dome-shaped headquarters called "Charleston East" in April, the same month Apple (AAPL) will start sending employees to its new "Spaceship" campus called Apple Park in nearby Cupertino. The vote was unanimously approved on Tuesday.
Construction on the building project that will house up to 2,700 employees is scheduled to be completed in 2019. The building will be two stories tall and about 595,000 square feet, vs. Apple Park's 2.8 million square feet. The project site is 18.6 acres, much smaller than Apple Park's 175 acres. Apple plans to move 12,000 of its employees into Apple Park within six months.
The updated renderings for the campus reveal that Google has significantly scaled back from its original plans first revealed in 2015. The original plan resembles a large glass greenhouse (similar to Apple Park), while the new plan looks more like a scalloped tent.
The more modest plans are a result of Google and LinkedIn (LNKD) swapping Mountain View real estate locations last July. LinkedIn was given more space than Google, forcing Google to downsize its plans. Other possible explanations for the scaling back include the New York Times report from 2015 that the Mountain View community was concerned about being overtaken by the campus or continued cost cutting under Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat. Other projects that have seen cuts are Google Glass, Chromebook Pixel and Google Fiber.
Charleston East marks the first time Google has constructed an office building from the ground up, rather than moving into a previously built space. And while the project may be less innovative than its original 2015 plans predicted, the campus is still plenty impressive.
Read on to learn more about where some of Google's 61,000 employees will be working in a few years.
The Charleston East campus will be built in Mountain View near Google's cooperate headquarters known as Googleplex, a 500,000 square foot area that includes tennis courts, basketball courts, massage rooms and nap pods.
The tent-like roof may be its most impressive feature. It will have solar panels that will integrate 4MW of solar capacity, vs Apple Park roof's 16MW of solar capacity. It will also collect rain water, regulate indoor climate and air quality, as well as minimize sounds. The square metal pieces that create the dome will be made from material that's not too too reflective or transparent in order to help prevent bird deaths.
The highest part of the building will reach about 112 feet and will house unique office spaces on the second floor that are designed to be "highly flexible and reconfigurable." Google's projects consultants described it as "a building form not typically described in standard city codes," according to siliconbeat.com.
Google real estate director John Igoe told KPIX-TV that the team "wanted to find out how we could get a space to be very, very flexible and that wouldn't have a lot of walls and the typical type of restrictions you have."
The campus's ground floor featuring a retail area will be open to the public from dawn to dusk. An outdoor walkway or "artery" knows as "The Green Loop" will also be open to the public and will have restaurants, shops and bike paths built off of it.
"Cafes and shops dot the artery to create a bustling social and retail destination open to both Googlers and the wider public," the planning documents said.
The Green Loop will also feature "savanna-like habitat" and will connect Charleston East to Googleplex. The main path will be complemented by more private areas to allow people to talk and collaborate better, according to the documents.
The Green Loop public access area will also feature a park, a plaza with food trucks and a sculpture garden that will feature works reminiscient of Burning Man rather than the 'do not touch' pieces typically seen in museums.
The company designed Charleston East as a place for the public to enjoy, rather than just an office space, Google real estate director John Igoe told the Mountain View Voice. "This was our opportunity to make this location more open to the community," he said. "This is our new front door to the city and to visitor."
The campus will still give off a faint glow at night in the small Mountain View community. Google has more than 70 offices in 50 countries, but this is the only one open to the public, including Mountain View locals, tourists and employees.
This is a photo of Google's original plans for the campus that were laid out in 2015. The building had similar themes to Apple Park with lots of large glass panes and greenery but was scaled back after Google got the worse end of real estate deal with LinkedIn.
In the original plan, the buildings were going to feature lightweight designs that would allow them to moved around easily. Google seems to have compromised on this original design by creating offices that are easy to move around rather than actual buildings.