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Photo Tour: Google’s Surprise-Filled New York City Office, Including Digital Bookshelf
Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, is well known. The Googleplex, as it’s commonly called, sports everything from a T-Rex to a replica of SpaceShipOne. But Google’s second largest office in New York City has plenty of sights to see of its own.
I’ve been to Google’s New York office several times since it officially opened last summer. I’ve been meaning to get this post together with some photo highlights of those visits for ages. With our SMX East search marketing conference coming to New York next week, I figured now was as good as time as any!
Climbing The Google Ladder
Let’s start with perhaps the most remarkable aspect. Want to go from the fourth floor to the fifth? Forget the elevator. Forget the stairs. How about climbing a ladder?
Arriving up top, you might become disoriented, if you look behind yourself. That’s because the ladder has you emerging into a New York City street:
Just behind the safety cage is a manhole cover that says “Google N.Y.C” (you can see a better picture in this article from Interior Design about the Google NY office). Note the bags to the right of the cage. Those are to hold laptops and other equipment as employees take to the ladder.
Meeting Spaces & The Library
There are a variety of funky meeting spaces you’ll encounter, such as this one that looks like a room in an apartment, with couches made out of bathtubs:
In a hallway leading to a cluster of small work cubicles, a lighting fixture with hooks harkens to the Google NY’s location near New York’s historic meatpacking district:
Google New York features a library full of surprises. Sure, there are books:
But notice that “All Yours!” sign on the center shelf, to the right? That’s a signal that it’s OK to push on the shelf, which is actually a door that opens up to a private reading space:
One of the spaces even has its own window:
As seen above, the library has paper books. But the real gem is an entire digital bookshelf:
You select a book by using your finger to spin the shelf around:
Tap to select a book:
Tap again to open the book, and a short synopsis shows:
Nope, you don’t have magical access to the full book. But scanning the QR code in the lower left corner will load a link into your phone that brings you to the book as located in Google Books, where it can be purchased, previewed or downloaded for free, depending on the book’s specific restrictions.
Here’s a short video of the bookshelf in action:
Time To Eat
Speaking of QR codes, here’s a giant one:
It’s part of a Google mini-kitchen done in the style of a Greek coffee shop:
The kitchen features a window decorated with paper coffee cups:
Not to be outdone, the Water Tower Cafe (one of four cafes in total), named for the water towers often seen on top of New York City buildings, features a water tank:
What could top that? How about a food truck? Not a food truck on the street outside the office, either. One parked inside, for desserts:
Though the window, you can can see this sign welcoming people to the truck court:
And the back of the truck:
Old Computer Museum
Another highlight is a corridor filled with old computers. Among the many are this NeXT:
This Commodore 64 (the college essays I wrote on one of these!):
There’s even a collection of early PDAs, including the Newton and a Palm (pretty sure it’s a Palm IIIc, a model I used to love but which now sits long abandoned in a box in my house):
And The Lego….
Finally, I suppose no Google office would be complete without Lego turning up somewhere. Google New York is no exception, with an entire Lego workstation:
Googlers have done portraits in Lego of Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, as you can see above, as well as cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, below:
Still need more? The Wall Street Journal did a nice video tour earlier this year:
The video goes with an article from the WSJ talking about how Google bought its Chelsea-area office building in December 2010 for $1.9 billion.
Part of that purchase meant becoming landlord to other companies still in the building, something that can make getting around tricky. Near elevators are fascinating maps that show “Google Space” versus space used by other companies and routes using elevators or “common space” to get between Google floors in the building.
The office has currently has more than 2,500 employees, split roughly between sales and engineering. That means Google NY is not only the second largest Google office after Mountain View but also gives it the second largest engineering presence. Engineers work on more than 100 projects ranging from search to ads to maps and docs, Google says.
By the way, here’s a tip if you are a Googler or anyone visiting the New York office. Don’t refer to it as a “satellite” or “remote” office in relation to Mountain View. New York consider itself a star unto itself and not “remote” to anything.
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