With the economy in recovery, Google is poised for a period of major growth in Mountain View and may soon leave its mark on the city's landscape with several new buildings.
Google has recently redoubled its efforts to build as much as 1.7 million square feet of new offices in Mountain View, including a new campus next to its headquarters that could be as large as 565,000 square feet. And a Google spokesperson says Google is still on track to begin construction in September 2013 on a 1.2-million-square-foot complex at a NASA Ames Research Center site that overlooks the bay and includes company housing, a first for Silicon Valley, as well as child care and recreation facilities.
Google now owns or leases at least 67 buildings in Mountain View, according to recent news and county tax assessor records from September. New acquisitions include the historic Pacific Press campus on Villa Street and a large Ellis Street office campus known as The Quad. Google is also rumored to be near a lease deal for the former Nokia campus on Fairchild Drive, but a Google spokesperson had no comment on the matter.
Google has announced that 2011 will be its biggest hiring year ever, even bigger then 2007 when 6,000 employees were hired. "A significant number" of those employees will work in Google's Mountain View offices, a spokesperson said. And Google's expansion plans for following years indicate that the company doesn't expect the growth to stop anytime soon.
As early as late 2012, a spokesperson said, Google could begin construction on what is likely to be a landmark building. It is slated for the 18-acre, city-owned "Charleston East" lot between Google headquarters and Shoreline Boulevard.
Plans have yet to be unveiled, but Google submitted conceptual plans in 2008 for the northern 9 acres of the site, which a city planner and a local architect called "extraordinary" and could have been the most environment-friendly office building ever built.
The development now in the works will extend onto another 9 acres that Google recently leased from the city. Google has hired a new architect for the expanded project, Germany-based Ingenhoven Architects. The design firm's impressive resume includes the Frankfurt Lufthansa headquarters, which uses one third the energy of a typical office building, as well as the design of the new Stuttgart main train station, which is a "carbon free and zero energy building" that requires no power for heating, cooling or ventilation.
Illustrating just how quickly Google wants to develop its first building, Mountain View Community Development Director Randy Tsuda said Google doesn't want to wait for next year's general plan update, which may allow buildings twice as large on the Charleston East site. Google will instead adhere to a maximum of 565,000 square feet for the 18-acre site and height limit of four stories, Tsuda said.
"They have indicated that it is going to be a very, very green project," Tsuda said. "From time to time they've mentioned going to LEED platinum and beyond."
Tsuda also noted that Google appears to be readying itself to build the 1.2-million-square-foot campus on federal land at NASA Ames, a project that Google has had on hold since 2008. A Google spokesperson confirmed that the first of three phases of construction is set for September 2013, followed by phases in 2018 and 2022.
The spokesperson pointed to a 2008 press release for the campus at NASA Ames, which says that "while the majority of the development will consist of office and R&D space, Google also plans to construct company housing and amenities such as dining, sports, fitness, child care, conference and parking facilities for its employees, as well as recreation and parking facilities and infrastructure improvements for NASA's use."
If the aforementioned buildings come to fruition, the construction of 1.7 million square feet of new buildings would accommodate 5,666 employees at a typical 300 square feet per employee.
In just the last few months Google's acquisitions made room for 2,000 employees with the purchase of the 171,000 square foot Pacific Press campus on Villa Street and a lease deal for 450,000 square feet on Ellis Street in "The Quad."
And there's potential for even more space. Tsuda said Google is examining its option for adding buildings to the Pacific Press campus, potentially adding 90,000 square feet. And in the long term, the company owns 64 acres of office buildings along Shorebird Way that could allow another campus of 1.7 to 2.7 million square feet. Google made such plans in 2006, which would have created five-story buildings, large parks, "green" building designs and parking garages on the 64 acres. The plan was put on hold, and Tsuda said he is unaware of any prep work being done by Google for Shorebird Way.
As Google's new expansion efforts indicate a new commitment to Mountain View, Google appears to be embracing its presence in Mountain View in other ways, such as donating $1 million to local schools, hosting more community meetings and awarding grants to local non-profits.
But Google's large presence does have a drawback -- there's really no room now for another major company in Mountain View. Intuit and Symantec have both expressed an interest in increasing the density of their existing properties, while Microsoft, now surrounded by Google, has found space in Sunnyvale's Moffett Towers. One council member said of Google's large local presence that it might not be the best to have all the city's "eggs in one basket."
"It is a concern of ours," Tsuda said. "At this point there's just so little vacancy in terms of Class A office space. It makes it hard to accommodate other companies. It's very, very difficult for anyone to find space right now."
Google's acquisition of the Quad means there are no more available Class A office complexes in the city, Tsuda said. Several major companies were reportedly considering the space before Google snapped it up.
The developer of a large office project on Ferguson Drive, Palo Alto's Dostart, is already talking to major tech companies as prospective tenants, and the project hasn't even been designed yet.