“The next Googleplex goes way beyond free snacks and massages; it’s a future-proof microclimate,” writes Brad Stone for Bloomberg:
The most ambitious project unveiled by Google this year isn’t a smartphone, website, or autonomous, suborbital balloon from the Google X lab. You can’t hold it, or download it, or share it instantly with friends. In fact, the first part of it probably won’t exist for at least three years. But you can read all about it in hundreds of pages of soaring descriptions and conceptual drawings, which the company submitted in February to the local planning office of Mountain View, Calif.
The vision outlined in these documents, an application for a major expansion of the Googleplex, its campus, is mind-boggling. The proposed design, developed by the European architectural firms of Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio, does away with doors. It abandons thousands of years of conventional thinking about walls. And stairs. And roofs. Google and its imaginative co-founder and chief executive, Larry Page, essentially want to take 60 acres of land adjacent to the headquarters near the San Francisco Bay, in an area called North Bayshore, and turn it into a titanic human terrarium.
The proposal’s most distinctive feature is an artificial sky: four enormous glass canopies, each stretched over a series of steel pillars of different heights. The glass skin is uneven, angling up and down like a jagged, see-through mountain. The canopies will allow the company to regulate its air and climate. Underneath, giant floor plates slope gently upward, providing generous space for open-air offices and doubling as ramps so the 10,000 employees who will work there can get from one floor to the next without the use of stairs. For additional office and meeting space, modular rooms can be added, stacked, and removed as needed. To accomplish this, Google says it will invent a kind of portable crane-robot, which it calls crabots, that will reconfigure these boxes and roam the premises like the droids in Star Wars…