By all accounts, it’s fun to work at Google. How could it not be, with all those slides, lounge chairs, and espresso cafes to keep you happy (read: productive) throughout the work day and, yes, night? And that’s the point. Every new Google office, a Google spokesperson told The New York Times in March, aims to achieve one goal: “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.” It would be hard to argue with that. (Or would it?)
In the past year, Google opened its third office in the U.K., a tidy British affair stuffed with niceties like plush velvet sofas and grandfather rockers. The company’s sprawling new Dublin campus couldn’t be more different.
Google’s Dublin flagship covers 47,000 square meters of pricey downtown real estate. The offices are spread across four buildings, though the campus’s central building has been attracting the most attention. Designed by architecture firm Camenzind Evolution, the main offices occupy 14 floors of a jet-black Miesian tower; they’re linked by spunky, brightly colored interiors and in-your-face design cues. The vertical operations are packed to the gills with amenities, all meant to keep you inside for as long as possible. Employees have their pick of five restaurants; can preuse new products at various on-site tech shops; and have access to 42 kitchenettes, a fitness center, a game room, and an 82-meter swimming pool.
The architects developed a particular theme for each of the floors, where different aspects of the company’s operations are represented with unique decor and “hangout” areas. There’s level “Search,” where employees hack away all day long, fine-tuning Google’s patented algorithms. New Google Apps are iterated and tested on the “‘Appiness” floor; while level “Be green” is fully carpeted in a layer of grass and strewn with plants and bark-faced wallpaper. Burning the midnight oil and sorely in need of a break and a change of pace? Head on down to “@Home,” where all of home’s comforts will be waiting.
It’s a schizophrenic design strategy, to say the least. Moving up and down the offices is somewhat akin to walking in a shopping mall where every store has its own identity and wares; only here, the experience is much more immersive, with a seeming endless array of wall paints and thematic props vying for your attention. The stacked floor arrangement congests the diverse set of programs, leaving the visitor bewildered as they make their way from floor to floor. It’s a bit of a madhouse, and you’d never know it from the street. Only the lobby’s quirky sculptures give any indication of the frenetic work and play inside: a giant 3-D Google logo, its letters pulled apart and half-sunk into the floor, dominate the streetfront.