UPDATE: The SF Gate reports that the architects of the Google Barge have now been revealed to be San Francisco-based firm Gensler and New York-based LOT-EK, a firm with experience adapting shipping containers for retail design.
A mysterious construction project in the San Francisco Bay has been making waves for the past couple of weeks. Moored off Treasure Island, locals apparently refer to it as ‘the secret project’ – and, until now, that’s about as much as was known about it.
Despite months of rumors and complete radio silence from Google, spokespeople have finally released a statement on the project, stating: “Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”
While it’s a shame about the dinosaur, Google’s expansion into technology retail is possibly even more intriguing, as it’s entirely new turf for the company: retail design.
More info and an artist’s rendering of what the barge could look like, after the break…
When Google Glass launched, we wondered how this wearable augmented reality device could add a whole other dimension to the consumption of architectural publications, by bringing the experience of space, matter, and light to our screens.
In our field, the experience is very important, and it is a dimension that hasn’t been able to be reproduced in its entirety through traditional media (plans, 2D or even 3D models). Attempts to make immersive panoramas or to embrace video have expanded the potential for representation, but not in a significant way. And this is why travel is a vital asset for the architect.
Imagine finally experiencing the approach to the Parthenon like Le Corbusier did almost a century ago. Imagine a tour broadcast by the architects of a project themselves, with the possibility for instant reader feedback in order to discuss a particular moment inside the building.
Google is about to release a new version of their device, and we had the chance to use it while walking around the PUC Design School by Sebastian Irarrazaval. Here’s a short video of what we recorded with the device; just imagine how this very same video would be when Google Glass overlays the physical, built world you’re experiencing with virtual information from around the web.
And stay tuned for more videos!!
Google’s secret development department, Google X (responsible for Google’s very cool, although non-core initiatives, such as Google Glass and driverless cars) is reportedly working on a new technology that could transform the construction industry – as well as architecture itself. It goes by the name of “Genie.”
According to Globes, a report from Genie’s development team, addressed to Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, describes the invention as a cloud-based collaboration platform with “planning applications to help architects and engineers in the design process, especially for skyscrapers and large buildings. The platform includes planning tools of expert architects and engineers and advance analytics and simulation tools.”
The report also emphasized Genie’s potential to transform the conservative construction industry, one of the most profitable and the most wasteful, by making it more efficient and environmentally friendly at the level of design, construction, and maintenance. The report suggests the invention could save 30-50% in construction costs and 30-50% of the time spent between planning and market; moreover, it could generate $120 billion a year.
NASA, in cooperation with TIME and Google, has unveiled startling timelapse images of Earth from orbit collected by NASA’s Landsat program since 1984. This program, created not for spycraft but for monitoring the way in which humans are rapidly altering the surface of the planet, consists of eight satellites that have collected millions of pictures in the course of two generations. When sifted through, cleaned up and stitched together, these pictures come together to create a high-definition slideshow that reveals some of the drastic changes our planet is undergoing – most notably through widespread urbanization.
And this week’s “punniest” title award goes to Fast Company (there was no contest, really). Beside the pun, of course, the article itself is pretty cool, outlining how Google Street View has followed-up on their latest intrepid capture of the Burj Khalifa with the 1889 classic: the Eiffel Tower. Read the article here and check out the fun video above!
“Most social movements become social moments when they appear in a public square,” says Seyla Benhabib, a professor of Political Science at Yale University, in the video above. “These are informal spaces of deliberation and communication.”
Occupy Wall Street, which took over New York‘s Zuccotti Park, is just one example of this phenomenon. As we’ve reported, the social movements that spread through Turkey like wildfire took physical form in Istanbul’s historic Taksim Square and Gezi Park. Only a few days ago, protests took similar shape in the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as citizens protested a raise in bus fares as well as many other social issues. There are countless other examples throughout history of people utilizing public space as a vehicle for self expression and social change, but what’s different about today’s social movements is that they also occupy cyberspace – heavily.
A few days ago, Google+ released the short video above about these digital spaces, what they call the “virtual public square”. Of course, the physical places that people use to express themselves are certainly no less important; however, it is interesting to consider the vital role social media and virtual communication now play in the unraveling of political events.
More after the break.
Jane Jacobs revered the West Village. It was a bustling neighborhood enlivened by its social, spatial, and functional diversity. It had different building types and functions, which meant that people were always in places for different purposes; it had short blocks, which have the greatest variety of foot traffic. It had plenty of old buildings with low rent which “permit individualized and creative uses;” and, most importantly, it had all different kinds of people. As a result, West Villagers could establish casual and informal relationships with people that they might not have had the opportunity to otherwise.
Without these necessary characteristics, Jacobs felt “there is no public acquaintanceship, no foundation of public trust, no cross-connections with the necessary people – and no practice or ease in applying the most ordinary techniques of city public life at lowly levels.”
By simply changing a few words, it’s not hard to imagine Jacobs’ writing describing offices instead of cities. Buildings are different internal spaces, like individual offices or gathering spaces; desks are homes; sidewalks are hallways or circulation space; etc.
If the office is a small microcosmic city, then suburbia is the cubicle-strewn office, and Google might be the West Village. And ‘people analytics,’ the statistical and spatial analysis of interpersonal interaction, is the office’s urban planning.
To find out what creative work environments can learn from the composition of cities, keep reading after the break…
Just to be clear.. this was after all our April Fools ;)
We know a good idea when we see it. That’s why as soon as we heard about Google Nose we decided to call our friends at Google and work something out between us. Google has the power to bring you the scent of food, animals, and all sort of things. But what about buildings? That’s where we come in.
You won’t have to travel to Sydney to smell the Opera House. Or fly thousands of miles to Pisa to catch the smell of “leaning”. Starting today, you will be able to smell every building in the world from your computer. So far, we’ve been trying Google Nose with the following:
- High Line Park on a rainy day (smells like wetness)
- Any of our AD Classics (smell old)
- Kumutoto Toilets (smells like crustaceans… what were you thinking?)
- Burj Khalifa (smells like gold)
- Barbie Shanghai Store (smells like cotton candy)
We only have one problem. There are probably dozens… or even hundreds of buildings worldwide! So we do need your help. Prepare your noses and get out there. Smell those buildings and share your scents with us in the comments. We will do our best to replicate the smells and share them with the world.
One thing Google has become known for is their spectacular work environments. From playful employee lounges to environmentally sensitive design, the multifaceted internet giant has successfully transformed hundreds of existing spaces from around the globe into casual work environments that spawn innovation, optimizes efficiency, and boasts employee satisfaction. Much like many other California-based corporations, Google has been toying with the idea of building their own office space from scratch. Well, this dream will soon be realized, as the company has teamed up with Seattle-based NBBJ to expand their current, 65-building “Googleplex” in Mountain View, California. By 2015, Google plans to construct a 1.1-million-square-foot complex known as “Bay View” on a neighboring 42-acre site.
More on Bay View after the break…
Last year, Google founder Sergey Brin demoed Google Glass a new technology from the big G that puts an augmented reality display in front of your eye. The device is scheduled for early release to developers and creatives (in order to get feedback before the $1,500 product finds its way to the general public) in just a few weeks, but it has already been highly acclaimed by the media (including Best Inventions of the Year 2012 by Time).
On this video released by Google you can understand what all the hype is about. The 0.5″ display supported by a thin aluminium frame is placed in front of your right eye and thanks to its camera it serves as a two way interface with the Internet. As you can see on the video, natural language instructions (“Glass, take photo”, “Glass, record video”, “Glass, How long is the Brooklyn bridge?”) let you easily control the device and not only check emails or send messages, but also to display maps, definitions, and to share photos and videos in real time. In this aspect, the device opens a big door for architecture.
In our field, the experience is very important, and it is a dimension that hasn’t been able to be reproduced in its entirety through traditional media (plans, 2D or even 3D photos). Attempts to make immersive panoramas or the efforts of architecture photographers to embrace videos have extended the representation, but not in a significative way. And this is why travel is an important thing for the architect.
Imagine a tour broadcasted by the architects of the project, with the possibility of instant reader feedback to discuss a particular moment inside the building. Imagine finally experiencing the approach to the Parthenon like Le Corbusier did almost a century ago.
In this aspect, Google Glass will change the way we understand architecture media.
Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building has commenced in San Francisco with an interesting announcement from the main stage. Google has granted $3 million to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in an effort to transform the building materials industry and accelerate the creation of healthier indoor environments.
“Healthy, non-toxic building materials are a critical component in green building,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Fostering awareness of the materials we put into our buildings is of paramount importance, since many materials can link to a host of environmental and health issues. Working with Google enables us to broaden our efforts in the materials industry as we prepare for the next version of the LEED green building program, LEED v4. This updated rating system will paint a more complete picture of materials and products, enabling project teams to make more informed decisions.”
More after the break…
Google recently released a new, intriguing type of software, which allows programmers to make a room come alive with interactive spaces. The new software framework, which is called ‘Interactive Spaces’, works by providing a high-level architecture for building activities that respond to events in a room through ‘blob tracking’. As seen in the image above, an Interactive Spaces installation was used where ceiling-mounted cameras tracked the position of individuals in a room so that the software could display colored lights on the floor where they are standing. The source code, which will open the door for creative and design oriented minds everywhere, is distributed under the permissive Apache license and is available for download from a Mercurial repository hosted on Google Code here.
From the archeological areas of Stonehenge to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Google’s World Wonders Project is dedicated to digitally preserving and virtually sharing the World’s Heritage Sites. Users can explore some of the world’s greatest places through panoramic images, 3D laser scanned models, videos and informative text. Although Google World Wonders is a new and ongoing project, they already have more than 130 sites in 18 countries featured. The project is also an educational resource, allowing students and scholars to use the materials to discover some of the most famous sites on earth. A selection of free educational packages are available to download for classroom use.
Google World Wonders is made possible through the partnership of Google, UNESCO, the World Monuments Fund and Cyark, with a shared mission to preserve world heritage sites for future generations.
A report released by the Center for an Urban Future has positioned New York City as the fastest growing tech sector in the country, outpacing Boston to become the U.S.’s #2 Tech Hub (only behind Silicon Valley).
Its rapid growth – a 28.7% increase of tech-related jobs in five years and a 32% increase in venture capital deals (compare that to the national average of -11%) – has been attributed to the diversification of its startup tech companies, focused not on creating new technologies, but on providing technological solutions to existing industries.
However (as we noted earlier this week in “The Next Silicon Valley(s)“) there is another “key” factor to the city’s burgeoning innovation and entrepreneur scene – the city itself.
Read More on how New York City’s Urban lay-out is encouraging its technological boom, after the break.
HP, Apple, Google – they all found their success amongst the peach groves and Suburban houses of California. But why? What is it about Silicon Valley that makes it the site of technological innovation the world over?
It’s tempting to assume that the Valley’s success must be, at least in part, due to its design. But how does innovation prosper? What kind of environment does it require? In a recent interview with The Atlantic Cities, Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, suggests that creativity is sparked from casual exchanges, the mingling of diversity, the constant interaction with the strange and new. In short, and as a recent study corroborates, innovation flourishes in dense metropolises.
Seemingly then, Silicon Valley, a sprawl of highways and office parks, has become a hotspot of creativity in spite of its design. But let’s not write off design just yet.
As technology makes location more and more irrelevant, many are looking to distill the magic of Silicon Valley and transplant it elsewhere. The key will be to design environments that can recreate the Valley’s culture of collaboration. The future Valleys of the world will be microsystems of creativity that imitate and utilize the structure of the city.
The announcement instigated a flurry of analyses and criticisms over the meaning of the design for the world – the Zen-like significance of the circle, the role of architecture in this technologically-driven age, the legacy and hubris of Jobs – but produced very little discussion over its meaning for the company itself.
Meanwhile, months before news of the “spaceship” landed, another internet giant was searching the California landscape for its own space to call home. Still very much under-wraps, the new Googleplex will be the first time Google builds a workplace completely from scratch. 
These projects will be the Magnum Opuses, the ultimate physical representations, of the two most influential Tech companies in the world, and the two share striking similarities. So let’s clash the plans of these two titans and take another look at Apple 2 – but this time in the light of Google – and see what they can tell us about these companies’ futures.