MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) — The conflict between tech-giant Google and long-time residents trying to hold onto the small-town vibe in Mountain View may be escalating.
Traditionalists in the community believe the company is taking over and changing the face of their city. Those concerns could peak once residents get a glimpse at the architectural plans for Google’s proposed expansion of its headquarters.
Google has tapped the London design firm Heatherwick Studio and Danish architect Bjarke Ingels to create their new digs, which according to the New York Times is a “series of canopylike buildings.”
Both are known for their innovative, avant-garde designs — polar opposite to the traditional homes in the city, like the Victorian Italianate Rengstorff House, built in 1867 by a local businessman who operated the ferry to San Francisco. Now, Google ferries workers to San Francisco via air-conditioned, wi-fi equipped commuter shuttle buses.
It’s something of a love/hate relationship. Since its arrival in 1999, Google has become the biggest employer in the city, with more than 20,000 workers on 7.3 million square feet of office space. City lawmakers love the tax dollars the company brings in, but residents hate that those dollars come at a price — gridlock and skyrocketing real estate values.
Google’s plan to redesign the city’s North Bayshore area will bring even more workers to this suburban city. Mountain View city councilman Leonard Siegel said he wants to add 5,000 new housing units to the plan.
But in doing so, residents fear the new housing will lead to a “Google voting block” and their concerns about holding on to the traditional small town vibe will fall upon deaf ears. New Google employees will vote for the candidate who endorses Google concerns — more schools, expensive services and a city that no longer resembles the Mountain View they are trying desperately to preserve.
Former city councilman Jac Siegel summed it up when he told the New York Times, “If you brought 5,000 people in and they all work for Google and they said, ‘We want you to vote for this candidate,’ they can own the town.”
View previous works by Heatherwick Studios