A Ringling Brothers circus on steroids. That’s how Will Oremus, a senior technology writer at Slate, describes Google’s recently unveiled blueprint for its new headquarters in Mountain View, California.
“The whole thing will just be as Googley as you might imagine,” says Oremus, who looked over the plans recently. By that he means a series of dome-like structures made of transparent glass, modular offices with roofs that can be moved, bike paths, creeks and plenty of greenery.
Fitness, of course, is a huge part of Google’s work culture, and that too finds a place in these plans. Oremus remembers seeing a schematic of a group of people practicing yoga. “They have the sweeping view of the bay,” he says. “It’s like they are on display to the entire world. Just showing how fit and healthy and really utopian Google employees’ lives are.”
The reason Google and other Silicon Valley companies invest so much in what their offices look or feel like, Oremus says, is they want this to be their employees’ “first home.”
“It’s just a way to try and wring as much productivity out of these employees as they can,” says Oremus. All these perks that come with the job are also selling points, he adds, given the current demand for engineers and developers in Silicon Valley.
But the city of Mountain View is not buying into Google’s “utopian” headquarters that easily. Community leaders have already expressed concerns over what this new development will do to the suburban city.
“These cities have seen what happens with this tech boom and bust cycle,” says Oremus.
That is, when it goes bust, the city is left with built up office space, and a depressed economy. And, when things are going great, they have to deal with the rising property prices and the increased activity—including traffic—that a company this large would bring.
Oremus thinks the city of Mountain View won’t give up without getting some concession out of Google.
“I don’t think you’ll end up seeing quite the utopian vision Google has come to reality in Mountain View,” he says.
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