116,000 Square Feet
The term Silicon Beach was coined in 2011, when Google consolidated its Los Angeles operations into a 100,000 square foot facility in Venice Beach, California with the primary goal to create a unified campus similar to its Googleplex headquarters in Silicon Valley. Working with architects at HLW International and the Howard Building Corporation, Google redefined the local technology landscape and the design approach that has come to be known as the creative office.
The Google team had the vision to recognize the potential of merging three distinctly different buildings, one a historic concrete shell building that previously housed a gas company, another wood truss building, and the third being the famous Frank Gehry designed Binocular Building that includes Claes Oldenberg's and Coosje van Bruggen's iconic Binoculars sculpture. Each building had completely different construction requirements, but they were tied together to create a compelling campus effect. Three different openings were created to connect the three buildings, and the shared outdoor space transformed into a dog park, a rock climbing wall, an outdoor meeting and event courtyard, and a sometimes movie theater, with movies being projected on the side of one of the buildings.
To attract talent and provide a creative environment, Google ensured that the campus would offer amenities to keep its employees inspired. The cafeteria provides free food cooked in a kitchen many restaurants would envy. A wellness center hosts medical staff, and massage therapy is offered in a separate massage suite. A full gym operates 24 hours a day and offers various fitness classes. Micro kitchens provide snacks and personal cooking space. A rooftop seating area acts as a lounge. Bike storage, an outdoor shower, and surf boards available for the impromptu surf session encourage outdoor activities, especially at the beach just two blocks away.
With such a varied program and the distinct nature of the three buildings housing the campus, construction of the facility had its own set of unique challenges. For example, one of the building's concrete floors were so thin and full of rebar that it had to be fiber reinforced, making it difficult to later punch holes in the floor for plumbing. The location of the main kitchen created challenges in its layout, and a new loading dock had to be built to accommodate deliveries. Impressively, all of the challenges were not only met, but the project team went a step further and attained LEED Platinum certification for the entire campus.
Google, Venice is an impressive, ground breaking project. Some of the elements that were first seen in the Google project have since become standards in other creative office projects, such as the construction of a structural mezzanine within the larger space of the building, mixing demountable walls and storefronts to create flex offices mixed with open office space, and an abundance of unique break out areas for impromptu meetings. This project was truly transformative for the nature of the workplace, and Howard Building Corporation is pleased to still be working with Google in pushing those boundaries as the campus continues to grow.