First announced in March 2015, Google Charleston East has been designed by a collaborative team of Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio. As well as creating offices that would adapt to the fast-moving nature of the technology industry, the project also needed to reflect Google’s philosophy of open collaboration. Google’s workplace was to be a highly flexible space that could respond swiftly to its changing needs and evolve over time.
The Charleston East headquarters provides a workplace of approximately 55,000 sqm for 3,000 staff, arranged beneath an expansive tent-like roof. Inspired by the simplicity and adaptability of aircraft hangars, the envelope is formed of a series of steel canopies, draped between steel masts and pierced with 64 smile-shaped clerestory windows. Each canopy is clad with customized photovoltaic panels that generate substantial energy to power the building. Rainwater harvesting enhances its sustainable performance and provides almost 3m gallons of reusable water annually.
Freed from the convention of stacked office floors, the interior of the lightweight canopy is set around a large, day-lit open floor plate. The ground level will comprise a series of pavilions wrapping around a public ‘green loop’ that cuts through the building. Cafés and shops will line the artery, hoping to enliven the area and create a social and retail destination open to both google employees and the public.