For the first Google Cloud office, Google chose to purchase and renovate an existing 249,000 square foot Research & Development facility, originally built in the early 1960s to house one of the first supercomputers. In partnership with IA Interior Architects, we sought to convert this massive, dark building into a light-filled biophilic workplace that nurtures and inspires.
Biophilic design is based on the simple idea that humans want to be in close proximity to nature. Our first design response was to flood the interior with natural light, and use this as the organizing principle for the large floorplates. The floorplan directly relates to three major sources of natural light: an existing courtyard, a new double-height space below a large existing skylight, and most dramatically, a two-story courtyard cut into the center of the largest floorplate and capped with a sculptural Oculus. These bring daylight and circadian rhythms to the interior workspaces, and also support wayfinding through the large office.
The biophilic goals of the project were awarded with four petals from the Living Building Challenge: Materials, Equity, Beauty, and Place. Our project team achieved this by questioning and rethinking the standards and implementing a range of sustainable design strategies. The large building is able to operate on 100% renewable energy, supports onsite water recycling and rainwater capture, has a zero plastic or single-use waste policy, and uses chemical-free materials -many of which are salvaged.
The Lundberg Design shop designed and built several custom pieces for the project from reclaimed items. Redwood trees from another Google campus that needed to be felled were used to create the reception desk, a series of benches throughout the project, and a dramatic outdoor communal table formed from the split root-ball and trunk of the largest tree. Inspired by the original use of the building to house supercomputers, Olle sourced and salvaged thousands of junked circuit boards which we arranged on plywood panels to form a cityscape of abstract shapes. Painted white and hung in the new two-story gathering space beneath an existing skylight, they simultaneously celebrate the building’s history, emphasize the scale of the new space, and draw attention to natural light, the guiding principle and material of the project.