Google acquired three floors of this Chelsea office building to expand its New York offices. Brightworks administered Google’s Project Requirements, a healthy materials program, and LEED CI certification.
In view of the High Line park and the Hudson River, an easy arm’s length from the foodie mecca of Chelsea Market, and a stone’s throw from the meatpacking district’s mayhem, Google has a new home. With space split between two Chelsea landmarks, National Biscuit Company buildings from 1898 and 1913, the search engine’s sales team enjoys impressive digs that are nevertheless decidedly understated. The goal here was to play against type by celebrating the low-tech and the local.
Google’s presence here started with a single office above Chelsea Market. Scoot across an original footbridge to find three additional levels with office areas, meeting zones of various sizes, a fitness studio, and a 200-seat cafeteria. That’s 145,000 square feet in all.
Through the entire premises, the corporate branding is low-key, almost invisible. Still, there’s plenty to see or smell or touch at every turn.
A wall in the main reception area is covered with 63,000 clacking disks, black on one side and white on the other, that flip to display different graphics or, eerily, silhouettes of visitors. Gracing a pantry, rows of fancy teacups and saucers are attached to the wall above a niche stocked with canisters holding 20 varieties of tea leaves. (Water can be heated to the drinker’s preferred temperature.) A gilded LED fixture flows, like molten lava, across an otherwise unadorned corridor wall. And the footbridge’s ceiling hosts a kinetic sculpture of tumbling black, white, or metallic prisms.
Google’s creative group, called the Zoo, integrated the latest technology with a kid’s wide-eyed wonder for colorful interactive displays based on cutting-edge Web search. The highest-of-high-tech might be City Cave, a mysterious alcove where users gesture toward emotion-related search terms appearing on surrounding screens. Then the software conjures imagery of a place in New York that’s somehow related. It’s a wondrous oddity that undoubtedly leads guests from, say, advertising agencies, into useful discussions of search algorithms. Suspended overhead in the pre-function area is a tilted strip of screens that translate visitor’s speech and movement into colorful, pulsing waves. As people walk along a corridor, a wall’s striated acrylic fins glow various colors.
There’s no guesswork when it comes to office functionality either. Google tests new solutions, conducts assessments, and collaborates with Googlers.
Brightworks administered Google’s Project Requirements, a healthy materials program, and LEED CI certification.