BIG and Heatherwick Trudge On with Googleplex Plans

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Google now has to convince its hometown that its intentions are non-evil,” commented Bloomberg Businessweek’s Brad Stone on “Building Planet Google.” Referring to the City of Mountain View’s decision to award land to LinkedIn over Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed Googleplex in fear of becoming a “one-corporation town,” Stone details the backstory of the futuristic plans and how the architects haven’t given up yet. “Neither us or Heatherwick are in the business of producing a pretty painting,” Ingels said to Stone. Read the complete story here.

BIG and Heatherwick’s Futuristic Google HQ Proposal Loses to LinkedIn

© / BIG / Heatherwick Studio

Google‘s ambitious plans to expand its California headquarters in took a major blow last night when council members announced their decision to award LinkedIn three-quarters of the North Bayshore area site. With just 500,000 square-feet of area to work with, Google would only be able to construct one of its four proposed buildings.

Unveiled earlier this year, the company’s futuristic “Googleplex,” designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studio, gained international attention for its outlandish plans to build four Lego-like buildings beneath a cluster of translucent canopies.

As The New York Times reports, LinkedIn won the council over by promising to “preserve business diversity.”

BIG and Heatherwick’s Google HQ to be Built with Robots

© Google / BIG /

Google’s proposed California headquarters will be built with robots, according to the most recent planning documents received by the City of Council. As the Architects’ Journal reported first, the documents detail BIG and Heatherwick Studio‘s plan to construct the canopy-like structure’s interiors with a team of robotic-crane hybrids known as “crabots.”

These crabots would, in theory, establish a “‘hackable’ system for the building of the interior structures,” says the documents, that would allow for limitless, easy, and affordable reconfiguration of space throughout the building’s life.

“A Truman Show-Style Nightmare”? Critics React to BIG and Heatherwick’s Designs for Google

© Google / BIG / Heatherwick Studio

In their designs for Google’s new headquarters, released last week amid much excitement, Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick have taken cues from the utopian visions of the past to create a radical solution for the sprawling tech campus in , California. Citing the lack of identifiable architecture in the technology sector, a promotional video on Google’s own blog reveals how the company plans to embrace nature, community, and flexibility with the new scheme.

Chief among the company’s concerns was creating a building capable of adapting to future uses in addition to serving as a neighborhood-enhancing environment to welcome visitors from the surrounding community. As with any news related to Google, the design has already attracted the attention of the media – read on after the break for our rundown of the most salient reviews so far.

See BIG & Heatherwick’s Design for Google’s California Headquarters

© Google / BIG /

Images have been unveiled of BIG and Heatherwick Studio’s design for Google’s Mountain View headquarters. The plan, submitted to city council today, proposes to redevelop and expand the company’s home office with a series of lightweight canopy-like structures organized within a flexible landscape of bicycle paths and commercial opportunities for local companies. 

“It’s the first time we’ll design and build offices from scratch and we hope these plans by Bjarke Ingels at BIG and Thomas Heatherwick at Heatherwick Studio will lead to a better way of working,” says Google. “The idea is simple. Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas… Large translucent canopies will cover each site, controlling the climate inside yet letting in light and air. With trees, landscaping, cafes, and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature.”

A video about the design and a statement from Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick, after the break. 

Google Taps BIG and Heatherwick to Design New California Headquarters

Image: Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick

The City of Mountain View is expected to receive a massive proposal from the city’s largest employer; reports confirm that Google has enlisted Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Heatherwick Studio to design its new California headquarters. With the few details released, it is unclear if the proposal plans to update the company’s existing 3.1 million-square-foot Googleplex or replace it. However, as the New York Times reports, the proposal will boast a “series of canopy-like buildings” on a campus organized around bicycle and pedestrian paths.

This means is now joining a list of powerful corporations who have enlisted world-renowned architects to design their California headquarters, including Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed “spaceship” and Facebook’s Gehry-Esque 10-acre “room.” If approved, Google will shift its focus on new housing, ensuring there is enough living space within Mountain View to accommodate its growing workforce (a topic of concern for many residents).

The proposal will be submitted to the city this Friday. Take a look at the company’s existing Mountain View headquarters, after the break.

22 Websites You Didn’t Know Were Useful to Architects

Being an architect is hard. At times, you’re expected to act as everything from a graphic designer to a handyman (or woman), from a data scientist to a writer, or from a computer programmer to a public speaker. And, you’re expected to do all these things on little to no sleep and for a much lower wage than you’re probably worth. But don’t fear – the internet is here to help (it’s not just a place to procrastinate, you know).

We’ve collected 22 free that can help you in the never ending quests for efficiency, knowledge and good taste. Whether you’re selecting the perfect color scheme for a presentation or graph, tracking the price of your next purchase, solving technical problems or simply trying to balance your sleep and caffeine intake, there’s something in this list to help everyone.

Google Earth Pro Is Now Free

© Earth Pro

Google Earth Pro has dropped its $399 yearly subscription and is now freely available to all. Beyond providing imagery, detailed maps, terrain and 3D building models of the world, Google Earth’s pro-version is particularly convenient for project planning and research; unlike its standard tools, Pro allows users to print images at 4800×3200, import and pin thousands of addresses onto the map at once, capture HD videos of what’s on screen, and easily measure distances and areas with polygons, circles and more, rather than with just lines and paths. Download it for free and fill out a quick form to unlock its Pro features.

Want a Virtual Reality Headset? Make One For Almost Nothing With Google Cardboard

© via the Cardboard Website

One of the most hyped stories in the world of technology is the development of powerful, affordable virtual reality headsets for the commercial market. For architects, the ability to immerse yourself in an imaginary world is an enticing prospect, for both professional and recreational uses – but at $200 and upwards for what is still a product under development, devices like Oculus Rift are not for the faint-hearted.

But now Google, ever the ambassador for the more fiscally-cautious tech junkie, has a solution that won’t break the bank. Their contribution to the emerging market is “Google Cardboard,” which creates a simple headset from an Android-powered smartphone and – you guessed it – some cardboard. Read on to find out how it works.

A+U Interviews Co-Founders of Google[x] Startup, Flux

A+u magazine was recently granted an exclusive interview with the co-founders of Flux, the [x] startup whose mission is to harness data to automate architectural and urban . The discussion is one of 14 essays and interviews from leading urban technologists in the current November issue, Data-Driven Cities.

“We began our exploration with the premise that buildings and the sustainability of our modern lifestyle are deeply intertwined. In addition, buildings – more specifically, housing – is an issue of human dignity. We wanted to find ways to apply Google-scale thinking to tackle these important issues,” says co-founder Nicholas Chim in the interview.

Read on after the break for a+u magazine’s full interview with Flux co-founders, Nicholas Chim and Michelle Kaufmann. And check out the November issue of a+u magazine, available in digital and print editions, which features new essays by Carlo Ratti (MIT), Dan Hill (City of Sound), Alastair Parvin (Wikihouse) and more.

Google Launches New Virtual Experience that Takes You Inside Alvar Aalto’s Works

Courtesy of Alvar Aalto Foundation

The Alvar Aalto Foundation has begun a collaborative project with Google to make Aalto buildings even more accessible to the public. Using ’s revolutionary Street View navigation tool, along with its virtual Cultural Institute, the project offers a look inside some of Aalto’s most iconic works of . Learn more about this initiative and see the virtual journey for yourself after the break.

SketchUp 2014 Incorporates BIM Capabilities

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Trimble Buildings Group have recently released SketchUp 2014, the latest version of its 3D modelling platform for architects, engineers, design and construction professionals. With “more than 30 million unique activations in the past year”, SketchUp is claimed to be the most widely used 3D modeling software in the world today. The latest incarnation of the simple tool features a new 3D Warehouse and some interesting integrations into the world of Building Information Modelling (BIM).

The Pros & Cons of Living With Google

Google’s New Campus / NBBJ. Image Courtesy of NBBJ

“Some days it feels like Google is taking over the world.” In an article for The Verge Sean Hollister investigates how Google now represents one tenth of Mountain View, the city which hosts the company’s Californian headquarters. Having one of the world’s largest tech companies on their doorstep is a cause of concern for residents, some of whom are now referring to their home as Googleville. Having just bought the lease for a former military airport some city council members are seeing the expansionist move as a step too far – read the article in full here.

VIDEO: A Mobile Phone That Maps Your World

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Johnny Lee, a project leader in the Advanced Technology and Projects group at Google, wants our phones to experience the world more like we do: “we are physical beings that live in a 3D world, yet mobile devices today assume that the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen”, he says – which is why his team has been working on Project Tango, a mobile phone which uses movement and depth sensors to build a 3D model of the space around it.

Project Tango brings a whole new dimension (the third one) to what we could potentially do with our phones: imagine creating a 30 second model to take away from a site visit, for example, or using augmented reality to show a or an installation in situ, navigable in real time. Currently, is in the process of distributing 200 prototypes to app developers, who will hopefully help it realize this tremendous potential.

LEGO®, Chrome Launch Virtual LEGO Game (Prepare for Procrastination)

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Architects and ® Bricks. For many, it was love at first sight.However, playing with at the office – fun as it may be – is not exactly something you can justify doing (at least not everyday).

Well, no more. For your procrastination pleasure, Chrome and LEGO® have paired up and created “Build With Chrome,” a game that lets you play with LEGO online. Good-bye productivity.

Learn more about “Build With Chrome,” after the break..

Why Workspaces are Obsessed with the Open Plan

NBBJ’s tri-sphere biodome planned for Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters. Image Courtesy of NBBJ

In a brilliant article for Der Spiegel, “The New Monuments to Digital Domination,” writer Thomas Schulz not only rounds up our reigning tech giants’ oddly-shaped – from Apple’s “spaceship” to Amazon’s “biodomes” - but also pinpoints what they have in common: horizontality. And why? Because an “open creative playground” without boundaries (like floors or walls) is “the perfect ideas factory: the ideal spatial environment for optimally productive digital workers who continuously churn out world-changing innovations.” And while this means that privacy has gone out these workspaces’ proverbial windows, Schulz isn’t too surprised – after all, “people have no right to a private life in the digital age.” Check out this must-read article here.

GOOGLE MADRID HQ / Jump Studios

© Daniel Malhão

Architects: Jump Studios
Location: , Spain
Architect In Charge:
Managing Director: Simon Jordan
Creative Director: Shaun Fernandes
Project Architect / Lisbon Office Head: Laszlo Varga
Year: 2013
Photographs: Daniel Malhão

Gensler, LOT-EK to Design Google’s Showroom of Floating Shipping Containers

© James Martin/CNET

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 .

More info and an artist’s rendering of what the barge could look like, after the break…