With Google and LinkedIn Vying for Development Rights, Focus Shifts to Mountain View as a Battlefield for Growth

Mountain View, Google, LinkedIn, North Bayshore Precise Plan, Heatherwick Studio, BIG, development, technology campus


As the twelfth hour for development rights in Mountain View loomed earlier this week, two Bay Area tech giants took their technological development prowess to the field—quite literally. Real estate is the newest battleground not just for talent, but also for the future growth of each firm.

[contextly_sidebar id=”hry4otwgaSbwLPrUO2nAHcZG3i01WK65″]Google and LinkedIn both have significant presence in Mountain View, so it is natural that each of the two firms want to see the allocation of future development of its North Bayshore development go to them. The North Bayshore Precise Plan allows “additional commercial development along with transportation improvements and protection of adjacent habitat areas,” said Martin Alkire, a principal planner for the city, when he was interviewed by The Registry in September of last year, adding that it will transform “the suburban office park district into something more compact.”

The area comprises about 600 acres north of highway 101 and is home to many tech companies, including the two juggernauts of Mountain View—Google and LinkedIn. A draft of the North Bayshore Precise Plan released last year permitted approximately 3.4 million square feet of office development but no allocation for residential housing.

This week, a few visions for that plan emerged as both Google and LinkedIn submitted their plans for the development.

LinkedIn’s plan, called Shoreline Commons, is in partnership with SyWest Development, according to reports by the San Jose Business Journal. It is a mixed-use development that would encompass 24 acres (1.6 million square feet of total space), comprised of six office buildings, half of which would include ground-floor retail. The plan intends to create a setting that would draw users beyond the working hours, and one that would include entertainment as well as a number of community benefits in Mountain View. The proposal calls for $40 million of benefits that include bicycle and pedestrian access across Highway 101, funds to renovate the public library, as well as ways to alleviate congestion and traffic in the city.

The business social media company occupies approximately 370,000 square feet of space in Mountain View presently with more space in Sunnyvale, including a brand new campus where it decided to sublease two buildings to Apple in 2014.

Google’s plans are decidedly different, more futuristic and also grander in scale. “We’ve inhabited a variety of workplaces—including a garage in Menlo Park, a farmhouse in Denmark and an entire New York city block—we’ve learned something about what makes an office space great. And we’re excited to put that into practice, starting here at our home in Mountain View,” wrote David Radcliffe, vice president of real estate at Google in the company’s blog.
[metaslider id=23268] The plan is to develop four sites, where Google already has offices, but with the ultimate goal to significantly increase the search giant’s square footage. “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,” added Radcliffe.

The new development would include a canopy-like set of structures that would envelope an elaborate development underneath. Some would contain public spaces, retail, offices and workout areas. Outside, there would be room for gardens, walkways and bicycle paths. It would be an inclusive neighborhood that would reclaim 30 acres of wetlands, woods and parks. The plan is to really reverse the sea of car-focused structures and parking areas and create a natural landscape, where you find an abundance of green outside and inside according to Bjarke Ingels in a video (above) that his firm prepared with Google and Heatherwick Studio.

“Tech really hasn’t adopted a particular language for buildings,” sad Radcliffe. “We’ve just found old buildings, we’ve moved into them and we’ve made do the best we could.”

“Silicon Valley has been the cradle of a series of innovations that over the last decades have propelled technology and world economy, but all of the resources, all of the intelligence has been invested in the immaterial, the digital realm,” said Bjarke Ingels of BIG. The focus of this proposal is to combine the vision of that immaterial with the physical.

“We have a duty to reflect in the physical environment the values that have been manifested in the innovations that have come out from this part of California,” said Heatherwick.

“How will we work five years from now? How will we work fifteen or twenty years from now? We don’t know what it’s going to be, but we know that it needs to be this incredibly flexible space for it to work,” added Radcliffe.

That vision is likely to create a friction point in Mountain View. Of the 3.4 million square feet that the city had allocated for North Bayshore, roughly one million is already dedicated to other developments leaving approximately 2.5 million square feet for these proposals. Google wants all of it. LinkedIn wants a large portion of it, too, so the city is now faced with a dilemma of somehow allocating what is left or considering a revision to its plans.

Mountain View will begin its deliberation immediately. The first step will include sorting through hundreds of pages of all the proposals that have been received last Friday. The lines in the sand have been drawn, and the outcome is likely to reverberate throughout the Bay Area.

Images courtesy of Google

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