Google's growth spurt shapes city

New leases, new construction set for coming year

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.


Like this comment
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Google's expansion is good news for Mountain View but there are some drawbacks. Since there's really no room now for another major company in Mountain View all of Mountain View's eggs are in the Google basket. That will surely come back to haunt us. Sooner or later Google will hit a bump in the road (see Cisco). Also, without another major company in Mountain View, Google has the economic leverage to force any terms and conditions that they want.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Google Headquarters is Mountain View.
Symantec and Microsoft's HQ are elsewhere.
When Google hits a bump they'd more likely shrink their peripheral locations more than headquarters. Likely Microsoft would shrink their footprint in Mountain View so than Redmond.

Mountain View is Google's Redmond.

I believe the Mountain View City Council would be wise to accommodate Google's growth for the immense benefit of Mountain View.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill Lindemann
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2011 at 2:02 am

As a resident of Santiago Villa mobile home park, I have been wondering what Google's intentions are with respect to our community. We are never mentioned when articles like this one appear. After researching the issue on the city's web site, my conclusion is that either A) the protections against mobile park closings are as strong as they appear, and Google has no interest in us, or B) we are squarely in Google's sights, but we won't find out about it until the last minute.

Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm

"all our eggs in the Google basket"

Funny, I warned of that in my campaign brochure last year....

Like this comment
Posted by June
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm

What economic recovery???

Like this comment
Posted by Jay
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2011 at 10:32 am

Looks like Google and Apple are battling it out architecturally in the "world's greenest office building" category, as well:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Mary Kennedy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 12, 2011 at 1:35 am

Would like to see Google create a truly green and a beautiful artful building that is one with its environment in a whole new way, one that takes the long view in mind and is innovative, ground-breaking.
Aren't we all tired of the same old glass and steel construction? what happens if the sea level rises faster than predicted? I'd like to see new construction that borrows from seven wonders of the world, and is something between the Pyramids of Egypt and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. I'd like a building that has exterior habitat for people and animals> make a mountain of a building that people can walk up, garden on different levels, sit on the top and enjoy views of the bay and a nice croissant and good coffee. Maybe the building arises as in a snail spiral, or maybe it ramps up the side of a flat topped pyramid shape-why not add a labyrinth for meditation and comtemplation -on the building! Make it so the person on the ground floor can go for a run up and around and down=on the building. Think Sumerian meets Egypt meets California Arts & Craft Movement, bring the wonderful weather indoors and the work place outdoors where people can exercise and share ideas at the same time. Note: I believe pyramids are also very stable with regards to earthquakes. Adding plants and dirt to the outside of the building will insulate it and keep the temperature a nice constant without having to air condition or heat it all the time.You can have solar panels too.

Like this comment
Posted by Stuttgarter
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

"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."

Ingenhoven's design for the new Stuttgart main train station is detested by most of the people of Stuttgart. It calls for the demolition of much of the existing station building, a listed architectural monument designed by Paul Bonatz which was completed in 1928 and which does its job extremely well.

In a piece about Ingenhoven's design in the New York Times, Nicolai Ouroussof wrote:

"...the design shows a callous disregard for architectural history. Its construction would require the partial destruction of one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks: the Hauptbahnhof, Paul Bonatz’s Stuttgart central rail terminal, a monument of early German Modernism built from 1914 to 1928. And in a particularly perverse gesture of “facadism” — a favorite tactic of bureaucrats and developers in which a few architectural elements are preserved while the rest of a structure is bulldozed — it would leave the station’s main hall and tower standing like some architectural amputee. Even more troubling, Stuttgart 21 joins a growing list of misguided projects that are reducing Germany’s 20th-century architectural history to a fairy tale version of the truth."

Google (how ironic) "The Stuttgart Main Station" to find out more about the 1928 station.

The new station will be underground and require far more power than the existing one for escalators, elevators and lighting. There is still no adequate emergency evacuation concept for people with restricted mobility. Yes, Ingenhoven won an award for the "sustainable architecture" of his station, but it was sponsored by the cement company that stands to do very nicely out the project.

As for Ingenhoven's station requiring no power for "heating, cooling or ventilation": most railway stations that aren't in places like Murmansk or Bangkok don't have heating, cooling or ventilation systems for the platforms (that's what Ingenhoven's talking about - not the ticketing and shopping areas which will remain in what's left of the Bonatz building).

And how carbon-free is it to move thousands of tons of earth and pump away millions of gallons of groundwater?

The supergreen architect Ingenhoven has also forgotten to point out that some 280 trees (some of them 100 - 200 years old) in the park adjacent to the station will have to be felled to make way for the new, underground facility. How green is that?

An allegedly green ("no need for air conditioning") building designed by Ingenhoven in Essen turned into an energy guzzling disaster because it just didn't work. Air conditioning had to be installed to make it usable.

This week German rail company Deutsche Bahn will restart work on the project. It is expected that the South Wing of the 1928 station will be demolished in the near future. The demolition of the North Wing and felling of trees to make way for the project last autumn prompted 100,000 people to demonstrate against the project. That news story went around the world.

Why are Deutsche Bahn and the mayor of Stuttgart (and Ingenhoven) so keen to proceed with this project in the face of massive opposition?
Putting the railway station and approach tracks underground will free up a lot of valuable real estate - where Ingenhoven can build more of his glass boxes.

Google will probably come to regret the day they ever got involved with Ingenhoven. He is a public relations disaster waiting to happen.

Like this comment
Posted by caravan parks
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Looks like Google and Apple are battling it out architecturally in the "world's greenest office building"

Like this comment
Posted by Jay
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Synopsys may be moving to Sunnyvale:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Tony
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

Please exaplin what Google does for the community? It imports it workers from over seas. It pays no taxes. It contributes nothing.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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