Google have been seeking a designer for their new London-based, European headquarters building, but Chief Executive Officer Larry Page rejected a design penned by London based agency, AHMM, because it was “too boring.” AHMM’s design included a rooftop pool, indoor climbing wall, an indoor football (soccer) pitch and a roof-mounted running track “as long as the Shard is tall.” It seems that Larry knows what he wants and Google has commissioned the high-profile British designer, Thomas Heatherwick, to work on the new £1 billion (around $1.6 billion) headquarters, which he wants to be “worthy of standing for one hundred years.” The new office is being built at 6 Pancreas Square, close to London King’s Cross station. It’s expected that the new office will house up to five thousand Google employees.
Thomas is already working with Google to design the new Californian headquarters; it’s not clear if Heatherwick Studios will be working with AHMM, or if AHMM has been taken off the project. The Architecture Journal newspaper reported in February that a number of AHMM staff, frustrated by the Google project, left the company as a result of Larry’s rejection. At the time of publication, neither Heatherwick Studios or Google were prepared to comment and AHMM had not responded.
Thomas Heatherwick is notable for a number of recent projects, including the 2012 Olympic cauldron and redesigning the iconic London Routemaster buses, which necessitated incorporating a three-door design that is fully accessible, plus a diesel/electric hybrid powerplant for reduced emissions and fuel consumption. We understand that Heatherwick Studios are also working on a “garden bridge” to cross the river Thames. Heatherwick Studios together with Google released a video highlighting a number of the expected building features (at the end of the article, below), including translucent canopies that can help regulate the temperature. However, the development at King’s Cross has faced repeated delays and currently has no target completion date – which is perhaps a means of managing the stress levels of all those involved with the project! The project was originally planned to be completed by 2016 but is at least a year delayed as work has not even begun.