A lunchtime basketball game, a walk on the rooftop exercise course, or 40 winks in a “nap pod”—just some of the workplace perks that come a little closer for Google employees in London in what will be their new home.
The US tech company celebrated the ‘filling in’ of its new UK headquarters as the final truss was hoisted into place on Friday, marking the end of major construction of its horizontal skyscraper, dubbed the ‘Scraper’. -sky “.
Wedged between – and dominating – the capital’s King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, the shell of Google’s new office building has been completed. The facade also takes shape as the metal frame is filled with giant panes of glass and wooden panels.
Towering over the King’s Cross area just south of the Regent’s Canal, the skyscraper is 72 meters high at its highest point and stretches up to 330m, making it longer than the Shard skyscraper of 310 m.
Ground was first laid on the skyscraper project in 2017 and Google is now calling the building a show of confidence in getting back to work after the pandemic, although others have described the billion-dollar project pounds as the epitome of the pre-Covid world of work.
“To see what we have achieved over the past five years, despite difficult circumstances, has been truly extraordinary,” said Ronan Harris, Managing Director of Google UK and Ireland.
As ceremony attendees sipped non-alcoholic Pimm’s and munched on canapes, the building’s final steel beam was signed by Harris and others, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan and local MP Keir Starmer. It was then lifted into place by crane, one of six still working on the 92,000 square meters (990,000 sq ft) building.
The project is the first building owned and designed by Google outside the United States, and Khan praised the view of the City of London skyline visible from the site. “This project represents a real vote of confidence in London, in our communities and in our thriving tech sector,” the mayor said.
Google is not expected to move into the 11-story building – which was designed in the studios of Thomas Heatherwick and Danish architect Bjarke Ingels – until 2024.
When that working day comes, 4,000 employees will head to their offices, taking advantage of facilities such as a 25-meter swimming pool on the ninth floor and a Muga – multi-purpose playground – where Googlers can play basketball, football at five or tennis.
Around 40,000 tonnes of soil will be transported to the roof garden, which runs the length of the building and in which 250 trees will be planted.
The skyscraper will also include community space for use by local residents, as well as retail units on the ground floor, some of which will be let to small, up-and-coming British brands.
Four-fifths of the building is suspended from its steel structure, meaning there are no internal load-bearing pillars or columns inside, giving the company a large, open and flexible space to each floor.
A single continuous suspended staircase runs from the ground floor to the top of the building, which the company says is designed to encourage employee interaction.
“I think it’s really, really important to make sure that we have this time together,” Harris said. “The spontaneous nature of the way people work and collaborate provides a richness that is hard to achieve through videoconferencing alone.”
Not all Google staff in the UK will be based in the flagship office building as it will not have the capacity. Google employs around 6,400 people in the UK and has set a target of 10,000.
Its staff are currently based in two nearby rented buildings in King’s Cross and in the Central Saint Giles development near Oxford Street in the center of the capital.
In January, Google announced a $1bn (£871m) deal to buy the brightly colored Central Saint Giles development, designed by architect Renzo Piano. Prior to the purchase, the company was already renting office space on the site, which also houses more than 100 residential apartments, as well as restaurants and cafes on the ground floor.
The company’s commitment to office buildings comes at a time when many large companies are still assessing how much and what kind of space they will need after Covid. Perhaps surprisingly, Google — like many other global tech companies — decided against fully embracing remote work post-pandemic, opting instead for a hybrid approach.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced last year that the company’s post-Covid work policy would see most employees spend three days in the office “and two days where they work best”. Twenty percent of Google’s global workforce will be permanently working from home.
The skyscraper project was first conceived long before the pandemic hit, but Google insists ownership of the Central Saint Giles building and development will allow it to adapt the space to its future needs.
“We’re all learning about new ways of working and the types of spaces we’ll need in the future, but it gives us the flexibility with a very low carbon footprint to be able to redevelop spaces in a very short time. A lot of time said Harris.
As employees returned to the office, Harris said, they requested more collaboration space rather than rows of desks. “It’s changing all the time, and right now we’re doing a lot of internal consultation with our teams to figure out what kind of space they need,” he said.