The expansion allows the company to nearly double the head count at the Kirkland campus, which now has more than 1,000 employees. The new building brings office space at the campus to 375,000 square feet.
The newest building on Google’s Kirkland campus has a giant wooden nest with a soft bench inside. But if you really want to take a nap, there are special “caves” made especially for a quick rest.
Google opened the doors to its Kirkland expansion Tuesday, a project it announced in 2013 that doubles office space on the campus to 375,000 square feet. The new section of the campus is connected to the existing one by a covered skybridge with a small public park in between.
Google, which did not disclose the cost of the project, now has more than 1,000 employees in Kirkland. It said the fourth building makes room to nearly double the employee base. About 400 employees are already working in the new building, including engineers working on Google Hangouts and Chrome technology.
Google has been following the nationwide tech trend of expanding its workforce significantly — especially its engineering centers, like the one in Kirkland. The company, which also has offices in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, has put a lot of its focus into the Puget Sound region lately. Earlier this month, it announced it would test its self-driving car technology here, and Google smart-home company Nest opened a large office on the Google Kirkland campus late last year.
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Google Kirkland is the company’s third-largest engineering center in the U.S., following those at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters and in New York. Washington state, and especially the Seattle area, with its availability of technical talent, has become a flocking ground for expanding tech companies.
Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene touted the benefits of the expanded campus at the open house Tuesday, especially the site’s environmental impact. Google cleaned up the former chemical-plant site and implemented many environmental features, including solar paneling and a “living roof” with plants and greenery on the rooftop deck.
The building, in typical Google fashion, is outfitted with a full cafeteria, open work spaces and the nap alcoves, which the company calls “nap caves.” The whole space has a Pacific Northwest theme, with four zones, including Forest, Mountain, Valley and Sound.
The forest zone has a mini snack kitchen — the “campsite” kitchen — complete with a fireplace and trail mix.
Even with all the cool features, Google’s real-estate project executive Mike Nolan said his favorite part is the heating and cooling system, which uses 55 percent less energy than a standard system. That may not be sexy, but Google is putting a big effort into its workplace environment.
“The building materials we use are healthy,” he said. “They have to go through a vetting process and still look good.”
Google partnered with the Lake Washington School District and city of Kirkland on several parts of the project. Nearby Lakeview Elementary School’s dirt field received a turf makeover for baseball and soccer, and the public park in the thruway between Google’s two sets of buildings comes with a fountain, basketball court and sand volleyball court.