Google's new HQ gives 1980s Chicago building a modern upgrade
Google has revealed plans for its new headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. The project will transform the existing 1980s-era James R. Thompson Center, giving the aging building an ambitious renovation that brings it in line with modern sustainability standards.
The James R. Thompson Center was originally designed by the late Helmut Jahn and opened in 1985 as a civic building. It's a remarkably futuristic-looking building that looks like it could have been completed recently, with its interior arranged around a 17-story light-filled atrium. However, this belies some genuine issues, most notable of which is that it's very inefficient to run – in part because of its poorly thought-out single pane windows. The primary focus of the renovation will be on improving this and Google has hired Jahn's architecture firm to handle the redesign.
"At Google, we've set an ambitious goal to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030," explained the internet giant. "This means running our offices and data centers on clean energy, every hour of every day. One of the important steps we can take to achieve this goal is to make our offices require less energy in the first place. That's why last year, when we announced our intent to purchase the Thompson Center, we also pledged to upgrade it to a LEED Platinum [green building standard], all-electric building.
"For a building like the Thompson Center, this isn't easy. In order to achieve the efficiency gains we're targeting, the building's facade and internal systems have to be completely replaced. The new triple-pane glass exterior will improve both the thermal performance of the building and the comfort of those inside by requiring less energy to heat and cool. Additionally, it will modernize the way the building looks, and maximize natural daylight and views. We'll also replace outdated heating and cooling equipment with high-efficiency systems that are capable of managing Chicago's famously varied seasons."
Further details are light at this stage but we do know that the colonnade at its base will be opened up to include more opportunities for food and retail spaces, plus covered terraces along three levels of the southeast perimeter will offer new green spaces. Judging by the renders, its postmodern overall design will be largely left intact.
We've no word yet on exactly how long the project is expected to take, but Google said it will be "several years." Last year the company opened its Silicon Valley HQ, which was designed by Heatherwick Studio and BIG, while its London "landscraper," also by Heatherwick and BIG, is currently underway.