Office buildings in Silicon Valley tend to make other office buildings look surprisingly small and shabby. Now, while there are few people that will say that got FOMO over an office, there is no doubt that Google’s newest campus in Mountain View, California is mighty nice and neat, even as office work itself remains up in the air.
The company officially opened its massive Bay View campus, which has been under construction since 2017, on Tuesday. The Silicon Valley stronghold is the first major campus that Google has developed on its own, and it definitely pulled out all the stops. In a blog post, David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president real estate and workplace services, said the campus was built with the goal of prioritising “the experience of the people in the building over the exterior form.”
Besides being people-centric, the building also takes the concept of an eco-friendly building to the next level, which is exactly what we need if we’re going to reign in the climate crisis.
A(nother) Gigantic Office for Googlers
Google is known for making a big splash with its offices and office culture, and its new Bay View campus is no different. The campus covers 42 acres and includes 20 acres of open space. According to Google, the Bay View complex spans 1.1 million square feet and consists of two office buildings, a 1,000-person event centre, and 240 “short-term employee accommodation units.” Accommodation units, in case you were wondering, are Google’s version of hotel rooms.
It’s Like a Miniature City With a Neighbourhood
The photos of Bay View’s cheerful second-floor interior from above remind me of a miniature city made of LEGOs. In fact, Google refers to this workplace as having individual team “neighbourhoods” connected by courtyards. The second floor is designed for teamwork requiring deep concentration and offers physical and hybrid workspaces.
Meanwhile, Bay View’s first floor is made up of gathering spaces. It has meeting rooms and cafes that allow Googlers to “connect with their community and collaborate,” company officials explained.
A Fancy Home for Google Ads
Google told Gizmodo on Thursday that Bay View opened for workers in May and that the company has been bringing folks back in slowly. The campus can house up to 4,000 employees and will be home to the Google Ads team, the company’s cash cow.
Natural Daylight From Every Desk and Outside Air
Unlike my past experiences in concrete office buildings with little to no windows, workers that go into the Google’s Bay View campus will be able to enjoy “natural daylight and views outside from every desk.” That doesn’t mean that every desk will be near a window, though. Google said it will use clerestory windows, or rows of windows above eye level, with automated window shades to shine light on desks throughout the day.
Besides natural light, Googlers will also enjoy fresh outside air at work courtesy of Bay View’s ventilation system. The system uses 100% outside air and only flows one way.
A Campus Powered by Dragonscale Solar Panels
Some of Bay View’s most remarkable features are its “Dragonscale” solar panels, which Google says are the first of their kind. The panels are textured, prismatic glass shingles with a unique coating. These shingles are unique because they trap light that escapes from the mainstream flat solar panels and reduce reflective glare, which can cause problems for drivers and pilots. The panels’ overlapping pattern led to the name Dragonscale.
Escaping California’s ‘Duck Curve’
Asim Tahir, Google’s district and renewable energy lead, has explained that Bay View’s Dragonscale solar panels will keep the building from contributing to California’s so-called “duck curve,” the increase in energy demand in the state that occurs in the evening after the amount of solar energy drops significantly because the sun goes down.
Tahir said that the panels, along with pavilion-style roof lines, are able to capture solar energy from multiple angles and will be able to generate power over an extended amount of time throughout the day.
Buildings That Generate About 40% of Their Energy Needs
According to Tahir, Bay View will have 7 megawatts of installed renewable energy, which will be able to power about 40% of the campus’ energy needs. Google’s forthcoming Charleston East campus, a project in the final phase of construction, will have the same energy capabilities.
Overall, Bay View’s solar panels and nearby wind farms will allow the campus to be powered by renewable energy 90% of the time, Google said.
The Water Is Eco-Friendly, Too
While Bay View’s solar panels are an obvious point of awe, Google has also implemented an impressive water system at the campus, too. Bay View is what the company calls “net water-positive,” which means that all of the non-potable water needed on-site is provided using recycled water generated and gathered by the campus.
Google explained that it managed this with above-ground ponds on the campus to gather rainwater. In addition, Bay View itself has a wastewater treatment system. Together, the ponds and wastewater treatment system provide water to cooling towers, toilets, and landscape irrigation.
Electric Stoves Are the Way to Go
Considering the state of the planet, there’s no doubt we all need to make a big push towards renewables and move away from traditional fossil fuels. Google knows this as well, so it’s no coincidence that the company made its new Bay View campus all-electric.
Each of the seven cafes in Bay, which are served by two kitchens, use electric equipment instead of gas.
That’s All Great, But What About the Money?
As you all have probably noticed, I really liked this campus. Bay View gives me a bit of hope that big corporations like Google can make changes in how their offices operate.
Yet, while this campus is great, it’s only one campus. Is this replicable for a smaller company? It’s hard to know, as the company didn’t disclose how much Bay View cost to build, CNBC reports. Bay View is one of 20 key projects in the U.S. that Google will invest about $US9.5 ($13) billion in this year, so there’s no doubt it was expensive.