Google ranks among the best when it comes to tech companies that build workspaces to encourage productivity and comfort.
Its expanded campus in Kirkland, Wash. is certainly no exception.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen, and hundreds of community members gathered on Tuesday to celebrate Google’s new Kirkland campus expansion.
“This is a great day for this company; a great day for the City of Kirkland; a great day for the whole state,” Inslee said at today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The new 180,000 square-foot building doubles the size of the company’s existing engineering center located just east of Seattle, where it employs more than 1,000 people who work on products like Google+, Cloud, and Chrome.
“We’ve come a long way since arriving here in 2004 and we’re glad we’ve come a long way with Kirkland,” said Peter Wilson, site director for Google’s Kirkland operations.
The new LEED-platinum certified building is just across from the company’s existing 195,000 square-foot building — they are now connected by a skybridge — and has a number of unique and eccentric features like crepe-making rooms, hideaway “cave” areas, a human-sized nest, a living roof deck, cafes, micro-kitchens, and more.
“We are so fortunate to have Google in our community,” said Mayor Walen. “It’s kind of like having a Willy Wonka chocolate factory in town because of the magical and mysterious things happening.”
The aesthetics and overall vibe of the building has a Pacific Northwest flair and is separated into four areas: Mountain, Forest, Valley, and Sound. Meeting rooms are named after mountain peaks, campgrounds, and more.
The land where the new campus is located formerly housed a chemical mixing and packaging plant and Google completed two environmental cleanups to remove contamination at the property.
“This property is no longer on the state’s hazardous site list,” Inslee said. “We have this beautiful site instead.”
Google placed high priority on sustainability for the new building, from the food that Googlers eat — for free, of course — to the air they breathe.
“This stuff we are breathing now couldn’t be of a higher quality,” said Anthony Smith, a real estate director at Google. “That is for our Googlers; for our workers; for our visitors; and for our customers. It’s something that the founders truly believe in.”
Added Inslee: “To those doubters who deny climate change and don’t believe you can grow an economy around clean energy, let them come to the Google building and see what these people have done, and they will find out what is possible.”
In between the two buildings is a public park, which was previously an abandoned rail corridor that Google transformed into a new outdoor recreational space for its employees and the public that includes a basketball court, a sand volleyball court, a Crossfit/TRX fitness area, and a zip line.
Google’s Kirkland office, which now totals 375,000 square feet, is the company’s third-largest engineering center. Smith, who has toured “many great Google spaces around the world,” had high praise for the Kirkland office.
“This is certainly one of the greatest Google sites,” Smith said. “I am truly impressed with everything I’ve seen today. It’s right up there, if not there.”
Inslee noted Google’s impact on Washington’s economy and its role in helping provide thousands of technology-related opportunities in the state.
“Google brings innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and the forward thinking culture that truly embodies the best of our Washington DNA and has always expanded technological horizons in the history of our state,” he said.
Google was one of the original Silicon Valley tech giants to establish an engineering center in the Seattle area, opening the branch in Kirkland in 2004. Since then, a number of other tech giants (Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce.com, Splunk and Zynga) have established engineering centers in the region.
Google, which also employs hundreds more at offices in Bothell and Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, has been involved with the Kirkland community over the past several years. This past August, the company paid $3 million for the public outdoor recreational space that transformed the abandoned rail corridor. A few months prior, it donated $200,000 to the City of Kirkland to install a free public WiFi network.
Then, earlier this month, Google announced that it is launching its Self-Driving Car testing program in Kirkland this month, marking the third city where the company is test-driving autonomous vehicles.
“This is an incredible place to work and live,” Delbene said today. “And, to test driverless cars.”