The second half of 2017 brought some much-desired attention to San Jose, the self-proclaimed capital of Silicon Valley. It all started when Trammell Crow announced that its Diridon Station project was tied to Google, and the subsequent negotiations the Mountain View tech giant started with San Jose’s elders to expand even further in the city. A slew of activity emerged in the city from hotels to office buildings to apartment complexes trading hands and institutional investors really zeroing in on the opportunity this could bring. The 86-acre, 4 million square foot approval Apple received from the city of San Jose in 2016 was not even mentioned in the news—the excitement seemed to be all about Google.
Yet Google’s ambitions are much broader than just one city. In late December, Google initiated plans with the city of Sunnyvale for a roughly 1.042 million square foot office project on approximately 40.5 acres of land it owns in the Moffett Park district. The ten parcels that Google owns are bounded by Caribbean Drive, Mathilda Avenue, Bordeaux Drive and Borregas Avenue. There are thirteen single story buildings on the property today totaling 801,670 square feet, and they include a combination of warehouse, light manufacturing, R&D and office uses, according to a letter submitted to the city by Google’s Senior Director of Design and Construction, Joe Van Belleghem.
These existing buildings would be demolished to make way for two new five-story buildings, a shared four-story garage and surface parking lots for 2,058 cars, as well as central utility plants. The project is planned to be home to 4,500 Googlers.
The new buildings will be nothing short of amazing. Designed by the world-renown Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, they will feature sloping cascades of floors that bring the outside inside the building and provide a uniquely modern take on accessible and useable green roofs flanked by floor-to-ceiling glass. One can imagine a gently sloping walkway up a hill zigzagging along and providing full view and access to the activity inside.
From the sky, the buildings will look like two parks with walkways defining the transitions from each floor. From afar, looking toward the slopes, one may have a difficult time distinguishing where the building starts and nature ends. And this, perhaps, was the ultimate goal of the designer and his client—Google is as much a part of Sunnyvale as it is of any other city in the region. It’s as if the company wants to blend in rather than stand out, however difficult that may be with this design.
BIG (Bjarke’s acronym) is joined on the project by Clive Wilkinson Architects, who will work on the interior of the structure, and Olin, who will take on the landscaping. Devcon Construction has been selected as the design-build contractor and architect of record, and KPFF will be the structural engineer. San Mateo-based Sares Regis will act as the development manager on the project.
Others on the project are Loisos + Ubbelohde, Point Energy Innovations, Aterlier Ten, Holmes and Kier & Wright.
A project of this scale will require all the existing street lighting, hydrants, irrigation systems and water supplies to be relocated and upgraded. A full re-installation of utilities, water services and sewage will be required, which will be subject to the city of Sunnyvale design guidelines. Of course, these are all in early stages at the moment and will go through a thorough analysis by the city and Google.