Here's a first look at Google's plans for its massive San Jose campus

Key Points
  • Google released renderings for its massive downtown San Jose campus, which will face final approval in spring 2021.
  • The company's mixed-use campus, which is in coordination with the city of San Jose, is a departure from prior campuses as more than half of it will be open to the public in some form.
  • The campus includes childcare centers, performative arts centers and ecological viewing stations.
Google releases San Jose campus rendering

Google has released a first look at its next massive campus — and it looks nothing like those before it.

The company released renderings and sketches of guidelines for its mixed-use, 80-acre campus in downtown San Jose, which will house 25,000 employees. More than half of the "Downtown West" 80-acre project — which is being built in coordination with the city of San Jose — will be allocated for residential and public space and include features like childcare centers, outdoor moving screenings and ecological viewing stations. 

"Thousands of conversations helped us hone in to what we really want in a site, which was much less the corporate campus and the financial district and much more a resilient neighborhood," said Alexa Arena, Google's district lead for San Jose in a video. "Downtown West is designed to be a true part of the city — the opposite of a traditional corporate campus," lead urban designer Laura Crescimano said in a statement.

It comes a year after the company filed its initial campus framework, which kicked off formal studies and community feedback discussions.  Last month, Google launched renderings for its new town-like tech campus in Mountain View, Calif., which aims to convert 40 acres of Mountain View land into a mixed-use campus open to local residents.

Silicon Valley tech companies like Facebook and Google have begun departing from the traditional style of campus designs that closed them off from the general public. The design could help draw millennial talent and and appease residents in surrounding neighborhoods, who have increasingly grown critical of tech companies' effects on society.

Google's San Jose project will have an urban promenade for entrepreneurship, arts and social gatherings.

The San Jose project proposes 30 buildings and around 4,000 housing units, as well as office space for non-profits including YearUp and Tech Challenge, following a step Facebook took at its Menlo Park headquarters in 2018.

The company is also proposing amenities including public maker spaces, retail space, a hotel and "performance areas" for live music, events and movie screenings. It also proposed areas specifically for rotating food trucks to park and operate.

Designed with climate change in mind

Perhaps the most interesting feature will be its environment-focused design. The company aims to include at least 10 parks and several trails while making nearly all of the site's buildings run off of solar or electric energy.

"Doing that is a huge step forward in our fight against climate change, which we can experience so acutely in Northern California today," Arena said. "We think this is a big innovation to get us there."

It will also have "ecological systems viewing" areas designated to raise awareness of environmental issues, the proposal documents state.

"If we can't have closer access to deep and immersive nature, we're not going to live the type of healthy and resilient lives we're after — there's a lot of literature on this," Arena said.

Google said its San Jose campus will have an ecological viewing station to encourage "environment education."

The company said it aims to make 65% of the campus accessible through bike, public transit, carpool or foot in order to reduce single-car use. It will also connect to what will be the country's largest transit station west of the Mississippi river, plans show.

The actual construction for Downtown West is still realistically a few years out and there still could be tweaks to the design based on further community feedback. The proposal will go to the city of San Jose for approval next spring.

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