Google 237
Work­place.

Experiential design for Google’s ambitious new office building.

Overview.

Workplace design.

Experiential design for Google’s newest (ambitiously sustainable) office building.

When it comes to physical office design, passive experiences don’t cut it anymore. Office spaces need to play an active role in an employee's everyday life. So for Google’s new, radically-sustainable office building at 237 Moffett Park Drive in Sunnyvale, California, we designed five physical experiences that create an ongoing, dynamic conversation between employees and the building itself around sustainability.

Why? Because the building has an incredible story to tell. The ambitious (and beautiful) design uses guidelines set by the Living Building Challenge, the most rigorous green standards that exist today. Its history tells the story of a Silicon Valley home to groundbreaking computer innovation in the mid 20th century. And then there’s the building’s future story: a structure reborn to fuel not just the Google employees inside, but also the local economy and ecology.

Work.

  • Experiential.
  • Technology.
  • Physical design.
Google 237.
5:41

Play.

Welcome to 237 Moffet Park Drive.

In the beginning, our mission was clear: Give a voice to 237 Moffett Park Drive’s story—its past, present, and future. Using the building’s main throughway as our canvas, our team of content, physical, and visual designers worked for over 18 months to bring five connected yet distinct experiences to life.

The experiences are featured at critical junctures for the employees coming and going: the main lobby, the employee entrance, high-traffic corridors, and even natural gathering and outdoor spaces off the main hallway. And each experience compliments the incredible architectural features of the space.

Bringing powerful stories to life—while also bringing people together.

In every space, there’s an opportunity to tell a story. Early designs focused on utilizing each space to engage people in an active dialogue, whether that be around the building’s story or with other employees. For example, in an employee gathering space, we created a “living” gallery wall: screens connected to a digital employee forum that displays questions and comments, as well as vignettes of the building’s story (below).

For sculptural installations, this meant designing spaces that come together in unexpected ways, like an anamorphic sculpture of the Cloud logo (bottom left) or a replica of a CDC supercomputer that dissolves into a historic timeline (bottom right). For each installation, our team vetted physical materials to ensure they were all meeting the ambitious sustainability standard set by the Living Building Challenge.

With a total of 24 displays and 45 printed frames this installation is meant to create a water cooler moment for those working in the building.

As employees enter the building they are welcomed with an anamorphic sculpture of the Google Cloud logo made with vetted and sustainable materials.

Employees can also explore the history of computing at their main building entrance, beginning the 1960’s CDC 6600 super computer at the front all the way to the latest cloud computing technology.

Why the making matters.

For this building, Google followed the most radically sustainable construction guidelines in the world, the Living Building Challenge. This standard focuses on creating buildings that are regenerative and healthy for the people inside, connecting them to light, air, food, nature and community—while also being self-sufficient structures, limited to the resources of their site. And for 237 MPD, there was a particular focus on sustainable construction materials. For Huge, this meant that each of our installations had to also follow these rigorous material guidelines. For example, we used Forest Stewardship Council approved wood and found construction scraps like cable wire to craft parts of the anamorphic Cloud sculpture that is featured off the main lobby (top right).

In addition to complying with sustainable material guidelines, our team also wanted to ensure each installation was as thoughtfully beautiful as the building’s own architecture. To make digital data plaques feel soft and unobtrusive, we used LED lights ghosted behind a CNC’ed transparent piece of corian (top right). To make our light sculpture glow with just the right amount of color, we used cast acrylic tubes with a frosted finish filled with a front and rear facing programmable LED strip (top left). And for a floorpiece centered off the main lobby, we used lazer etched brass (left).

We want to inspire a whole new way of thinking about employee experience through this merger of design & storytelling.


Matt Hexemer, Executive Creative Director.

Simply radical materials.

There is beauty in the simplicity of Google’s goal with this building. Give more than you take. To celebrate that simple yet powerful ethos, we created an anamorphic sculpture that sits off the main lobby. From most viewpoints, you’ll see five distinct pillars, each sculpted from recycled or found materials, conforming to the Living Building Challenge standards. But a plaque marks a special viewpoint at which all the pillars come together to form the Cloud logo—a perfect moment of simplicity. The clarifying moment is a nod to the positive impact that the building made to the environment during construction and every day after.

Harnessing the sun.

Outfitted with dozens of solar panels on the roof, 237 MPD is designed to generate more energy than it uses. Our team tapped into the building’s live energy data (a Google first) to create this light sculpture that illuminates the real-time energy use and real-time energy generated. When approached, the sculpture lights up, with a center panel showcasing the live data as well. This active installation helps spread the sustainable story of the building, engaging employees to learn more and think critically about their own contribution to sustainability.

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Celebrating the past—and future.

This building was not constructed from scratch. Google built it from an existing structure, which is a part of the sustainable design of the building. Previously a massive warehouse, the structure actually played a critical role in Silicon Valley’s tech history. In the 1960’s, it housed a CDC supercomputer, one of the world’s first. To honor that history, we created a replica of the supercomputer at the employee entrance. Behind the replica is a blast sculpture, which features a timeline of computer history—marking revolutionary leaps in technology, like the first personal computer and Google’s first search engine. This is to be an everyday reminder to employees that the future is what we make it today.

Giving the building a pulse.

Allowing space for people to connect is actually a big component of this building’s design, as it contributes to the health and well-being of the people inside. To augment one of these spaces, we created a “living” gallery wall, which features screens connected to an internal employee forum. Allowing employees to contirbute to the forum via QR codes, the wall promotes dialogue—moments to stop and engage with the people and world around them.

For the 46 frames (above and left), we designed a library of diverse characters to bring life to the dialogue happening around this gallery wall which is a centerpoint of an employee gathering space.

When you leave the building, you can take a bit of the story with you, feeling more connected to people and place.


Nicole Kuang, VP of Editorial & Experience Copy.