Google Is Assembling a City
The Google elite may be cosseted at work, but employees have to endure the real world upon returning home each night. No more: Googletown, a forthcoming mini-metropolis, will include not just offices but sports facilities, child care—and housing.
The urban moniker is ours, but the audacious plan is pure Google: The company will build out the equivalent of more than two TransAmerica Pyramids on the site of a federal space base in Silicon Valley. Though Google's plans at NASA Ames/Moffett Field have long been simmering, a Freedom of Information Act Request from the San Jose Mercury News shined new light on the company's plans.
Google is now revealed to be planning up to 180,000 square feet of housing at Ames, or 15 percent of the usable space on the 42 acre development.
And the company is pressing for still more housing in the adjoining city of Mountain View, where its headquarters sprawls across 65 buildings. Google is pushing Mountain View officials to change zoning so more housing and retail can be built around its suburban, office-park-ish HQ. It's not clear who would build this housing. But, conveniently, Google has its own developer, Planetary Ventures, which handled the Ames deal.
Between the construction at Ames and hagfish-like assimilation of Mountain View, Google is steadily assembling its own little city, And why not? When free gourmet food and massages failed to keep employees from defecting to hotter startups like Twitter and, especially, Facebook, the company tried offering workers free servants and multi-million dollar retention bonuses. Those are nice cushions against the travails of the real world — the bother of bank balances and annoyance of mingling with mouth-breathing non Googlers — but there's nothing like blocking out reality and living out one's days completely encapsulated inside the bubble, assuming it will never end.