Thomas Heatherwick says Larry Page’s supper led to the journey

British designer Thomas Heatherwick is designing new Google buildings in California and London.


In 2012, British designer Thomas Heatherwick Google Larry Page, co-founder of a billionaire’s home in California.

Page wanted to discuss the future of Google’s vast headquarters in Mountain View and other Google offices around the world.

However, supper rarely happened.

Heatherwick told CNBC: Exclusive technology event Last week in the English countryside.

Heatherwick hesitated because some of the other tech companies were “creating a private world for themselves behind the fence,” and it wasn’t interested in him. “A studio friend they knew talked to us and said,” No, really, you need to talk to them. ” “

Heatherwick told Google that he would be interested if the development contributed to the entire mountain view rather than creating “another self-righteous bubble for exclusive elite workers.”

Google liked the sound, and Heatherwick, who designed the new London “Routemaster” bus, and Heatherwick, who proposed the Garden Bridge over the Thames and the Vessel structure in New York, were invited to a bigger conversation with Page. I did. One-on-one dinner.

It went well. “There was a common interest in seeing the building as an opportunity to reassess the meaning of work,” said a 51-year-old bearded man in floating black trousers, a white shirt and a black waistcoat. “The journey began from that moment.”

Google hangar

Heatherwick said his studio has decided to partner with the Bjarke Ingels Group due to the size of the project.

Heatherwick said he was desperate to avoid what was happening at other Silicon Valley tech companies with “a building with this tarmac tutu on the edge” and “car skirts.”

They give the streams and some of the plants in the Bay Area an “opportunity to amplify and proliferate,” giving the general public the opportunity to roam relatively freely between various Google buildings, something more natural. I wanted to make it. “There was real support from Google,” Heatherwick said.

The new Googleplex headquarters campus in Mountain View, California is under construction and features canopy-like tents. The structure is designed by architects Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick.

Steve Prowl | Corbis Unreleased | Getty Images

Heatherwick felt that the idea of ​​”a bland box of office space” wasn’t right, and that design movements that would change the mood a bit weren’t right either.

Flexibility was one of Google’s key criteria, given that Google may need to use space for manufacturing.

Heatherwick visited NASA’s Ames Air Force Base, which has three huge hangars and is next to one of Google’s expanding sites. “When I looked at these airship hangars, it suddenly became apparent,” Heatherwick said. “There was a large and flexible volume that could be adapted and changed over time.”

Google’s solution was four huge hangars, all slightly different from each other. Each can accommodate about 4,000 Google staff and the other can accommodate about 3,000. The last is the theater.

Heatherwick describes the hangar as a bit like a giant semi-rigid tent. However, unlike most tents, Google can generate energy.

“We started by saying,’If this were all like one giant solar panel … you could pull it like a tent to make a giant hangar,'” Heatherwick said. .. “And, like Zoro, reduce it significantly and shine sunlight wherever you like.”

Heatherwick said he worked with a solar panel maker to obtain a bespoke product with “slightly different aesthetic quality” than standard blue and black panels that look “quite heavy.”

Heatherwick said that after the four buildings were almost complete, he took out his cell phone and showed the pictures on the big screen.

“We’re probably still a year away,” he said on the day of completion.

In addition to Mountain View, Heatherwick’s company is also working on Google’s new office in San Jose, according to Heatherwick.

Internet giants are planning to create a space for 35,000 people in San Jose.

London’s “Ground Scraper”

Heatherwick, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, designed Google’s new UK headquarters in a long, narrow section behind King’s Cross Station in London.

“It’s as long as a shard (skyscraper) is tall,” Heatherwick reiterated in a splattered line in a British newspaper.

“It will be the greatest use of wood on any façade in London,” he added. “That’s why the building gets older and more textured.”

Heatherwick can be seen developing from the roof of his apartment, which is also in King’s Cross.

Google’s new London headquarters.


But Heatherwick said the project was running a few years behind schedule and wasn’t ready for another two years.

Heatherwick’s company was brought in around 2017 after Google removed its rival AHMM from its build. A report suggesting that Page found the initial plans for the London office boring.. Google didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“In Mountain View and London, there were teams thinking about the site,” Heatherwick said. “I think it was reassessed in leadership. The other teams were stopped and we were brought in.”

No changes to Covid

The coronavirus pandemic has forced Google to rethink how often employees need to come to the office.

The company said in May that it expects 20% of its employees to work full-time at home when the office reopens.

However, as a result of the pandemic, the new buildings in Mountain View, San Jose and London are all flexible enough to deal with Covid, Heatherwick said.

“Your team’s emotions are key,” Heatherwick said. “Therefore, the workplace must be a temple of organizational values, especially if someone comes a couple of days a week instead of a prisoner five days a week.”

Thomas Heatherwick says Larry Page’s supper led to the journey

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