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Building a Glass Box Around Google

(image via Clive Wilkinson Architects)

West Hollywood based Clive Wilkinson Architects is getting a lot of positive national press due to their amazing work on Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley. The design of the headquarters is built around the engineers and their need for privacy and collaboration, a tricky balance that the rest of us cube dwellers will never know because our sucky companies don't value us enough to build a headquarters around how we think.

The learning curve was steep for Wilkinson’s entire team. “I started to feel like physical space was almost too primitive a world for these people,” says Alexis Rappaport, a principal in Wilkinson’s office. The cofounders were convinced that their physical space was important, but their approach to it had always been pragmatic. Google’s frugal, slapdash approach to its offices was a point of pride; the fast-growing company would expand into the abandoned offices of another defunct tech outfit and settle in hermit crab-style, reusing furniture and floor plans. Wilkinson learned to adapt his architecture speak to incorporate engineer speak in order to convey complex ideas about spatial flow, workgroup mobility, and "glass tents." The glass tents have become the signature piece of the office design, allowing for light to filter through without the problems of noise cluttering the office. The design also opened up the space to create a happy work environment that mixed Googles work-play lifestyle.
· Behind the Glass Curtain [Metropolis]