Google is doing gangbusters in the suburbs east of Seattle.
The tech giant took a peek at the sprawling campus it partially moved to and continues to build in Kirkland, Wash., on Thursday as it announced plans to invest $100 million more this year in the region where he first settled 15 years ago. from.
Google officially opened the first phase of its Kirkland Urban campus with two 8-story glass office buildings it calls North and Central. When complete, four buildings will total 760,000 square feet of space.
As the company greeted dignitaries including Washington Governor Jay Inslee, U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene and Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet, a crane and construction workers were busy on the adjacent south building, which is set to open. in 2023. A building is planned for 2025.
This growth is part of Google’s continued commitment to Kirkland and Seattle, where it employs more than 7,200 workers. In South Lake Union, Google is working on Block 38, a 330,000 square foot building that will give Google five buildings in total and 900,000 square feet of space in Amazon’s backyard.
And it’s a commitment to get workers back into the physical office, at least some of the time, after more than two years of remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Company-wide, Google says it’s investing $9.5 billion in offices and data centers and create at least 12,000 jobs in the United States this year. The Puget Sound region is the company’s second-largest U.S. engineering center outside of the Bay Area.
“As the country continues to recover from the devastating pandemic, we are doubling down in the states we call home,” said Paco Galenes, Kirkland site manager and director of engineering. He confirmed the company was continuing the design phase of another site in Kirkland, a former Lee Johnson Chevrolet car dealership, which Google purchased in 2020.
In his own remarks Thursday, Inslee praised Google for being an “engine of growth” in Washington and for putting more people in the state in “incredible jobs.”
“What I really want to highlight is your commitment to clean energy, your company’s commitment, and your personal commitment to building a new economy, based on clean energy,” Inslee said, calling the efforts of Google to operate with carbon-free energy on its campuses and data centers by 2030.
Kirkland Urban’s mixed-use development features may be traps used to attract tech workers in a competitive market where Google competes for talent with Microsoft, Amazon and many others. Both of these tech giants are actually equally bullish in the area east of Seattle — Amazon is expanding rapidly in downtown Bellevue and Microsoft is building a massive update to its longtime Redmond campus.
Kirkland Urban is already home to a Shake Shack burger restaurant; a Topgolf driving range; a QFC grocery store; and more retail and restaurant businesses. On a sunny afternoon, workers moved between buildings to explore lunch options or rode rainbow-colored Google Bikes.
Inside the central building, Galenes and other Google representatives touted amenities that would entice Googlers back to the office.
Connected by a central spiral staircase, each floor of the building is designed around a specific Washington State economic or cultural theme, such as technology, aerospace, music, the outdoors and more. There are micro kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, and meeting rooms galore. There’s a recording studio and band practice area; a dog lounge with a rooftop exercise area; a small movie theater; and a huge production studio to present Google events from campus.
Around the perimeter of these common and mixed-use areas are the actual workspaces, newly realized to be more flexible for shrinking or growing teams in a work environment where not everyone may come to the office. every day.
Google has moved to a hybrid working model in which it expects employees to be in the office at least three days a week. The model was expected to be fully functional in early April and was “designed to maximize flexibility while facilitating innovation, collaboration, and camaraderie of office experiences,” the company previously said.
Google would not say on Thursday how many employees are currently working in the two finished Kirkland Urban buildings or how many employees the campus could eventually accommodate. Commercial real estate figures for technology companies typically amount to one employee per 150 to 200 square feet, which would bring the number of employees on the finished campus to around 3,800.
Google also does not share the split between the number of employees working in Kirkland and the number of people working in offices in South Lake Union or Fremont.
After just a month of using the new hybrid working model, Google says it doesn’t yet have all the data on how many people are entering its offices, but the company says it has seen an influx of people regularly coming to work in the office. . and he sees more every week.
If it were up to Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet, she could be there every day. She called her city the best place in America to live, work and play and said partners like Google are doing the same. She praised the company for stepping up its efforts to help small businesses affected by the loss of tech workers in the community over the past two years.
“As we celebrate the opening of these beautiful new facilities and Google’s return to the desktop…we get a glimpse of what the future may be like,” Sweet said. “World-class workspaces, housing choices, convenient amenities, and opportunities to live, work, and play within walking distance.
“We look forward to welcoming more Googlers to our community,” she added.
Keep scrolling for more photos from GeekWire’s tour of Google’s Kirkland Urban campus: