Google Unveils its new Office in Downtown Austin

The lobby of Google’s Austin office, courtesy photo.

BY LAURA LOREK
Publisher with Silicon Hills News

From the outside, 500 W. 2nd street might look like any new skyscraper in downtown Austin.

But inside, it’s got that Google flair with scooters in the lobby, a swing, balance boards, a ceiling made of recycled canoes, an Airstream trailer food truck, outdoor movie theater, dog park, grassy areas, floor to ceiling library with bar and piano and beautiful expansive views of downtown Austin and Lady Bird Lake.

Google, with 450 employees, leased 300,000 square feet in the new building on ten floors. It is already occupying five floors and plans to move into the others in coming months.

“It’s the perfect combination of Austin weird and Google Playfulness,” said Kristin Chiles, Google real estate executive.

The floors have Austin themed rooms and event centers like the 25th floor with Barton Springs fitness, Hamilton Pool micro kitchen, McKinney Falls wellness center and Shoal Creek training.

The 29th floor is home to the SXSW Tech Talk room, which is fashioned after a conference area in Google’s Mountain View headquarters. It’s an inviting space that Google plans to host community events in, said Gerardo Interiano, Google’s Austin community manager. The Mott coffee bar is also on the floor along with the Magnolia room, and Pecan & Pine Patios. An expansive staircase connects the different floors.

The 28th floor is home to the Bat Cave, Bridge Café, East Austin Dining Room and the Zilker Park Terrace. That’s where the Airstream trailer is located that Google had lifted with high-powered cranes to get it in the building. Google provides its employees with free hot meals, snacks, and drinks.

This year marks Google’s 10th anniversary in Austin. It bought Postini, an email security and archiving company, in 2007.

“We love Austin, its world-class talent, and world-class companies,” said Greg Garrison, Google Austin Site Lead. “Google is proud to call this city home and we’re excited to continue to contribute to the amazing community and help define Austin as a growing tech hub.”

Google hosted an event Tuesday morning to unveil its new office and to announce a $250,000 grant to Workforce Solutions in support of the Master Community Workforce Plan.

Google has helped bring high-speed Internet access to Austin and spurred a lot of competition in delivery high-speed Internet to consumers and business, said Mayor Steve Adler. It also helped connect poor communities in the city to the Internet, he said.

The grant will help train people to get better jobs, Adler said.

“We have, in this city, 40,000 people that are looking for work and 40,000 jobs but the people that are here are not trained to take many of those jobs,” he said.

Companies are forced to bring in people from outside the city to fill those jobs, Adler said. During the next five years, the city will have about 65,000 middle-skilled jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, Adler said. They might require a two-year degree or certification, he said. Austin’s goal is to move 10,000 people out of poverty and into a middle-skilled job in the next five years, Adler said.

“That is a goal we can achieve,” he said.

The grant from Google will help make that goal a reality, Adler said.

Since 2011, Google has awarded more than $3.7 million in grants to Texas nonprofit organizations to concentrate on science and technology education, carbon reduction and access to the Internet.

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