U.S. technology giant Google’s plans for a landmark $1 billion, 923,942-square-foot headquarters at London’s King’s Cross Central site is one of the most talked about and anticipated commercial developments of recent years. Its design set for approval last week aims at fostering creativity via innovations such as the “northern palazzo”, southern “lantern café” and a roof-top swimming pool and running track.
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The detailed plans, which have been lodged by King’s Cross Central developer Argent have been recommended for approval by Camden planning officers who describe them as “unashamedly modern” but also relating well to the surrounding heritage townscape.
The single building rises from seven to 11 stories and proposes 923,942 square feet in total split into: 870,681 square feet of offices; 53,259 square feet of shops, food and drink facilities; a staff cycle store offering 574 spaces at ground floor level; and significant external landscaping.
The shopping, food and drink uses will be developed at ground floor level fronting on to Kings Boulevard across 16 units.
Google UK Ltd has signed a lease agreement with the site owner Kings Cross Central LP (KCCLP) for the building but under the terms of the agreement KCCLP will retain the ground floor commercial units to let to retail occupiers.
The building will accommodate up to 5,000 employees plus visitors.
Camden planners write that Google has been actively involved throughout the design process for the building “wishing to shape the space to suit its ethos of combining work time with leisure time and encouraging active recreation”.
They add: “An important aspiration for the building has been for it to interact with its surroundings and promote movement through and around the building while creating opportunities for views out over the surrounding city.”
It attempts this via a number of innovative features including a ‘promenade’ that progresses its way up from the building’s three large main entrances through the various office floors, connecting cores, workplaces, major shared amenities and a large roof garden.
The promenade would not only encourage free interaction between the building’s occupants but is intended to be visually expressed and appreciated as part of the building’s external architecture.
Integrated within the offices are various ancillary uses including a staff café, multi-use games area (MUGA) on the ninth floor, gym and wellness facilities, an audio visual studio, auditorium and events center and staff training centers.
The roof areas will also contribute to the variety of activities on offer through a combination of amenity terraces, a running track, a swimming pool and two further cafes.
Google is relocating staff from a number of sites in London including at Central St Giles in Camden and its Victoria office in Westminster.
Planners write that the move has been driven by the need for flagship premises connected both to the technology hubs of east London and international air and rail links.
It adds that some but not all staff would be relocated from existing premises and a significant proportion of the 5,000 plus staff would be new jobs.
King’s Cross is being developed by the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, which is a joint venture between London & Continental Railways Limited, DHL Supply Chain and Argent King’s Cross Limited Partnership, in conjunction with Hermes Fund Managers.
In total, the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership project is delivering over 1,900 homes, CBRE is Google’s retained adviser; DTZ and Savills are letting agents at King’s Cross Central on the offices; Lunson Mitchenall advises on retail.
3.4 million square feet net of offices and 500,000 square feet of shops.
Paul Norman is editor of CoStar News in the United Kingdom
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