Google Names General Contractors for NASA Campus

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By Sharon Simonson

Google Inc. has selected DPR Construction and Turner Construction Co. to build its proposed 1.1 million square-foot campus at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View.

The selection marks the next milestone in a project that began more than four years ago and that is expected to deliver an environmentally progressive campus that should accommodate as many as 5,000 workers.

“DPR is part of the joint venture along with Turner working on the Bayview Project,” said John Igoe, Google director of real estate and workplace solutions in a brief response to an email query from The Registry.

In naming Turner and DPR for the job, Google has embraced two of the country’s largest general contractors, according to Engineering News-Record. The two are also among the most active regionally, with scads of high-profile projects between them.

New York-based Turner, which has offices in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose, ranked fourth on this year’s ENR Top 400 Contractors list with more than $8 billion in 2011 revenue. Redwood City-based DPR ranked 24—up from 33 last year—with just more than $2 billion in 2011 revenue.

Among DPR’s notable Bay Area-based clients are Facebook Inc., for which it is building data centers, and Apple Inc. DPR is building Apple’s new Cupertino spaceship headquarters along with Skanska USA, another huge general contractor. The Redwood City company is also the general contractor for the $1.5 billion UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay.

Turner, in conjunction with Milpitas-based Devcon Construction Inc., is building the $1.2 billion San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara as well as doing work for the America’s Cup in San Francisco and at the Oakland Airport. It also is engaged in about $150 million worth of tenant improvements for companies such as Siemens AG, Microsoft Inc. and SuccessFactors Inc.

The largest general contractor in the country is San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. with more than $25 billion in 2011 revenue, according to ENR.

Google has not yet selected a general contractor for its neighboring Charleston East office project, Igoe said. That development, which is adjacent to the company’s Amphitheatre Parkway headquarters in Mountain View, is expected to range from 600,000 square feet to a million square feet, Igoe told a San Francisco gathering earlier this year.

The NASA campus, announced in June 2008, also could include housing, according to the city of Mountain View. The developer is San Mateo-based Sares Regis Group of Northern California.

Igoe was a senior vice president for seven years at Sares Regis of Northern California before coming to Google. He is a civil engineer by training with an advanced degree from Stanford University, according to LinkedIn.

Google agreed to lease the 42.2 acres of NASA land for a minimum of 40 years and perhaps as long as 90 years, paying more than $3.5 million a year for the right. In 2008, construction on the campus was expected to proceed in phases, with the first phase breaking gound 14 months from now. A Google spokesperson declined to say whether that timeline remained accurate or to provide additional information about the company’s plans.

Google’s relationship with NASA is more profound than simple proximity. The two have cemented formal agreements and worked to combine the best of information technology and space science to try to make NASA’s space-exploration work widely accessible. Google also supports Singularity University, which was founded in 2008 at the NASA Research Park with the goal of preparing the next generation of leaders to address the world’s biggest problems.

Igoe described Google’s aspirations for its new campuses last fall during a panel discussion as part of a monthly meeting of the Northern California Chapter of CoreNet Global. CoreNet is a professional organization for corporate real estate and workplace professionals.

“We want not just to mitigate the impact [of the new campuses], we want to actually improve the environment,” Igoe said. “The Google mindset is if we enhance [the adjacent wetlands], it can be an amenity for our employees. We want to bring the animals back in and to cohabitate with nature.”

In January, Igoe told his San Francisco audience that Google is completing $250 million in tenant improvements a year and that it “refreshes” all of the buildings it buys or leases. Its basic requirements for all buildigns are that they offer a healthy environment inside and out, bring true value for the cost, and are flexible and efficient. “We are designing for someone who is in junior high today,” he said, “and we have to be thinking about that. Technology is changing every three to five years.”

Moreover, Google wants its employees to be in the office. “Part of being a team is you better be there. At Google, we really want you at the workplace, not at home. It deprives your co-workers of your imput if you are not there,” he said.

The Bayview campus is separated from Google’s expansive presence in Mountain View only by Stevens Creek and a paved walking and biking trail adjacent to it. The trail, besides running alongside the San Francisco Bay, extends southeast well into Mountain View traveling close to that city’s bustling downtown and through various Los Altos and Mountain View neighborhoods.

Google has proposed building multiple new crossings over the creek to accommodate emergency vehicles and public and private transt as well as bikes and pedestrians. At present there are no publicly available connections between Google’s offices on the west side of Stevens Creek and the future Bayview campus on the NASA property to the creek’s east.