Despite telework, Google inaugurates a futuristic campus that can accommodate 4,500 employees

Google a fait construire deux immenses bâtiments aux allures de tentes en verre et en métal, couvertes de panneaux solaires

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In Mountain View, 1.5 km as the crow flies from its headquarters, the Californian group has built two huge buildings that look like glass and metal tents, covered with solar panels in the shape of dragon scales.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, did not reveal the amount that this “Bay View Campus” cost, planned to accommodate up to 4,500 employees.

I don't think any of our buildings will be empty. We are not worried jokes Michelle Kaufmann, director of research and development for the company's offices, during a visit for the press.

We are more worried about whether we will have enough space. Because the company continues to grow “, she added.

At the end of March, Alphabet had approximately 164,000 employees worldwide (+17% in one year). In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, 45,000 people work for the tech giant.

Its neighbor Meta (Facebook, Instagram) and other large digital companies (Microsoft, Amazon, Nvidia, Snap, Uber, etc.) recently announced a slowdown in the pace of recruitment due to the unfavorable economic context, after hiring at arm's length during the pandemic.

Connections and disconnections

Several companies, such as Twitter in San Francisco, have left the door open to telecommuting because many engineers prefer this way of working. Some are also having trouble bringing the teams back in person, in particular because of the fear of the Covid.

I believe 10% of (Google) staff chose and got to work from home first “, noted Michelle Kaufmann.

She hopes that the new offices, designed well before the pandemic, will meet the expectations of other employees, who divide their week between face-to-face and teleworking.

The ground floor consists of restaurants, cafes, gyms and meeting rooms, spread around several “public plazas” — from “Dinosaur District” to “Neon Nature” — lined with sofas.

The floor accommodates modular offices, separated by various pieces of furniture, but no walls, so that the teams have ” the privacy they need ” while remaining ” connected to the rest of the community », says the architect.

It took five years to build these buildings, with ambitious environmental specifications

It took five years to build these buildings, with ambitious environmental specificationsBIG-Bjarke Ingels Group/Iwan Baan/Cover Images/SIPA

Google hopes to encourage creativity and teamwork, with more solitary tasks being able to be done from home.

But beware of technology addiction: in the toilets, a notice gives advice on not being addicted to your phone and also warns against ” email apnea (when you hold your breath while checking your email).

Recycled water, natural air

It took five years to build these buildings, with ambitious environmental specifications. Alphabet has in fact promised to stop emitting carbon dioxide at all by 2030.

This campus achieves carbon neutrality” 90% of the time thanks to solar panels and geothermal batteries. All non-potable water needs are met with recycled water produced on site.

And the ventilation systems use 100% outside air, ” instead of 20% on average in offices, details Michelle Kaufmann.

A feature that comes at the right time, in the era of the pandemic.

Luckily, a lot of things we had planned are working wonderfully in relation to the Covid », remarks the architect. ” We thought we had ten more years for some elements, but the virus has accelerated the process. »

It ensures that workspaces have been designed with the flexibility to meet needs that no one yet imagines.

For now, the acoustics similar to that of an opera is not disturbed by many employees, because the new campus has only just opened.

Employees of other Google sites, when visiting for a few days, can stay in one of the 240 apartments built just opposite.

Conclusion

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