It's been a long time coming, but after being unveiled in 2015, running into trouble, and subsequently requiring a redesign, Google's new headquarters has finally been given the green light by Mountain View city planners. The BIG and Heatherwick Studio-designed project is due to start construction later this year.
Charleston East will be the first time Google has commissioned a HQ from scratch rather than occupy an existing building and so represents an opportunity for the search giant to really put its own stamp on the project. This it has done with a design that focuses on openness and energy-efficiency.
The main building of the campus is topped by an unusual canopy roof and will reach a maximum height of 110 ft (33 m). Inside, it will include 595,000 sq ft (55,277 sq m) of office space, plus more than 10,000 sq ft (929 sq m) of retail space, cafes, and public amenities.
Interestingly, while other tech firms (including Apple) restrict the public to a visitor's center, Google's campus will be remarkably open. It will allow members of the public to walk directly through the center of the main building and check out coding workshops, talks on sustainable technology, VR demos, and the like.
Ample glazing will ensure that the upper floor shouldn't need any electric lights on during the day, while all stormwater and rainwater will be stored in 721,000 gallon (2,729 kiloliters) basement cisterns before being recycled and reused.
We still don't know much about that strange canopy roof yet, but we do know that it will be completely covered in solar panels, producing an estimated 40 percent of required electricity. Google says it is working to develop new panels that are lighter, more bird-safe and mitigate glare.
All glass will be patterned to increase the safety of the local bird population too, and existing imported trees will be replaced with water-efficient local species. The 18 acre (7.2 hectare) site will also include bicycle and walking paths. Indeed, Google is really pushing two-wheeled transport and the best parking access will be reserved for cyclists (and bus passengers), with car users required to walk further to get into the office.
Charleston East is slated for LEED Platinum, the green building standard's highest rating, and a Google representative told us that construction is due to begin this summer (northern hemisphere). It's expected to be completed by the end of 2019.