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Inside the lobby of Google Cloud’s new South Lake Union campus in Seattle, which officially opened Thursday. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

Google and Amazon are officially next-door neighbors in Cloud City.

Google Cloud on Thursday officially opened up the first portion of its new five-building campus in South Lake Union, adding 600,000 feet of real estate to the company’s Seattle-area footprint. The offices will employ teams working on projects such as Google Cloud, Android, Maps and Chrome. The second phase of the campus will open Oct. 21.

The campus sits directly across the street from Amazon’s headquarters, which houses employees working on Amazon Web Services — the cloud computing market leader and a Google Cloud rival.

(GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

Amazonians welcomed Googlers with a “Hi, G!” message written in sticky notes pasted on the windows of Amazon’s Fiona building across the street.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee spoke at the opening of the cloud campus. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

Gov. Jay Inslee spoke at the opening, during which the search giant also announced a $1 million grant to William Booth Center, a men’s homeless shelter run by the Salvation Army in Seattle that focuses on veterans. The donation came from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm.

“This organization and this culture is a perfect match for the value system of the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

Google said it has generated $18.6 billion of activity in the state of Washington for local businesses, website publishers, and nonprofits. “That is not small potatoes,” Inslee said.

The South Lake Union campus was designed by Vulcan and will feature ground-level retail and housing units in addition to the offices. The new building has a makerspace, cafe, game room and workspaces like the “Puffy Coat” lounge, which is a tribute to the jackets made famous by Seattle-based outdoor retailer REI.

A long white hallway that is inspired by the company’s iconic search bar separates the public meeting spaces from quieter desk areas. Workers in the building receive many perks that have become staples of the tech industry, including free meals and the option to bring their dogs to work. There are also personal touches, like a mural painted by Google employee Daniel Romlein behind one of the building’s many gathering spaces.

Google employees walk into work on opening day. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

Earlier this year, Google announced that it would spend $13 billion on offices and data centers across the U.S., and the cloud campus is just one of several expansions that Google is making in the Seattle region. The company’s footprint has grown to nearly 2 million square feet spread across several cities in the area.

Google employees work in a lounge area under a neon sign that reads “Keep your head in the cloud.” (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

This week, Google confirmed that it completed its purchase of about 400,000 square feet of office space across two buildings at the new Kirkland Urban development in the city east of Seattle.

Google, which first set up shop in Kirkland in 2004, has more than 4,500 employees total in the region and has nearly 150 open jobs based in the area, which real estate firm CBRE recently rated as having the best tech talent pool in North America. It’s one of more than 130 companies from around the globe that have set up engineering outposts in and around Seattle.

Google employee Daniel Romlein painted this mural, which adorns one of the building’s many gathering spaces. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

“We’re super proud to be part of growing tech economy here in the state,” said Eric Young, site lead for the SLU campus. “It’s actually because of all these companies big and small that this area is able to attract and retain some of the most dynamic talent across a variety of industries and disciplines. That’s what brought Google here in 2004 and that’s what keeps us here today.”

Eric Young, vice president of engineering at Google and site lead for the company’s Seattle campus. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

But the region has also become crowded with tech workers, which is evident during rush hour as traffic around the new campus comes to a standstill. Young said the company’s below-ground parking wasn’t enough to accommodate all the workers, who have been encouraged to find alternatives to driving. Some employees have even taken paddleboards and kayaks across Lake Union to work, Young said.

The Seattle region represents Google’s second-largest engineering center outside of its Bay Area headquarters. Amazon, meanwhile, employs more than 50,000 people in the area, which is also home to Microsoft’s headquarters and its Azure cloud arm.

Employees have their choice of two cafeterias — with free food — in the new building. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

The Google Cloud campus in South Lake Union came under the spotlight in April after a construction crane fell at the project site, killing four people. Young offered condolences to the families of the people who were killed. The project timeline was not affected by the incident.

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