Early this year, some renderings had been unveiled by Google of several tent-like and clear buildings called ‘Googleplex’, which would serve as a replacement for its current headquarters in Silicon Valley. It seems that the idea may not go far from renderings as the company’s expansion plans have just suffered a serious blow. The Mountain View City Council voted on Tuesday to give Google only a quarter of the office space that it had requested for the project. The lion’s share of the future office development of the city, which is about 1.5 million square feet, instead went to LinkedIn.
About 500,000 square feet was given to Google, which is just enough to build one of the four buildings that had been in the company’s plans. The vice president of real estate of the search engine giant, David Radcliffe, said that they knew that it was a tough decision for the City Council and they were thankful to them and the community for giving six hours to the debate. He also said that the company would continue working on Google’s future with the City in Mountain View. This vote was a part of a years-long plan focused on redeveloping North Bay shore area. This is basically a group of low-slung office parks that are surrounded by Google headquarters and the Highway 101 separates them from Mountain View.
The issue was pertaining to the allotment of the 2 million square feet of future office space and also about how to develop housing, especially affordable housing, in an area that needs it badly. Underscoring this matter, in the earlier part of the meeting, several residents of Mountain View, which also included Brandon Jones, a Google engineer, protested about their eminent eviction from a townhouse development that had been acquired recently by a developer.
The proposal submitted by Google was to tear down parts of their campus and replacing it with a number of airy buildings with modular interiors and translucent roofs that could be reconfigured and moved around like Lego bricks. The design had been created by the superstar duo including a Danish architect called Bjarke Ingels, and London design firm Heatherwick Studio, which is known for works such as the fiery caldron at the 2012 Olympics. It was a David vs. Goliath victory for LinkedIn, which they achieved through some savvy moves and a project that was ambitious, but not overmuch.
Furthermore, it also showed that the size of Google has become a liability in its own hometown even though it is the largest taxpayer of the city, the biggest employer and also the owner of three Empire State buildings worth of Mountain View real estate. Indeed, one of the selling points of LinkedIn was that it would create business diversity i.e. reduce the dependence of Mountain View on Google. The proposal submitted by LinkedIn, which was called the Shoreline Commons, was quite modest as opposed to the one submitted by Google Inc. and this also helped its case in getting the land.