Flights of fancy, literal and metaphorical.

For Google’s new headquarters in the former Howard Hughes “Spruce Goose” airplane hangar in Playa Vista, we created an experiential building narrative of “flight” that joins the past and present of the Goose building and informs every level of its experience.

Integrating seamlessly with ZGF’s architecture, the design system takes it cues from the Goose’s history as a locus for all of Howard Hughes’ aviation-related endeavors and the ambitious “blue-sky” ethos that fuels Google’s innovations. Its application complements the building’s large scale communal moments, intimate spaces where individuals quietly burrow into their work, and every kind of space in between.

Inspired by airport runways­, the typography and system of directional lines indicate key moments of egress expressed in richly expressive ways. The four main Google brand colors (in muted, more sophisticated shades) are used to identify the building’s four wings.

The interior wayfinding system is deployed in nested levels of scale and detail to help individuals get to their destinations: the four wings and spine; the individual floors; and then each floor’s primary amenities through to the more intimate spaces like conference rooms, individual desks, and restrooms.

All within this system is storytelling around the individual Google employee, the company as a whole, the building’s design details (old and new), its history, and finally the Goose’s specific location—the Playa Vista neighborhood, Los Angeles, and the entire world.

Based on the design of the large atrium mandala, additional smaller mandalas are spread across the building to help visitors identify which wing they are in and then point them in the direction of the other ones.
 

“Throughout the entire day, everyone was mesmerized with the success of taking Google's whimsy and making it ‘smarter.’ Overheard from Googlers was the excitement that we gave our brand an adult voice. This was your doing.”

R.G. Kahoe, Google
The ends of select I-beams are painted a wing color shade (getting darker as they go higher), some with a “N” or “S”, for further visitor orientation. Upon closer reading, some beams even reveal the actual sea level elevation or six-word-memoirs about flight.
“Easter Egg” moments are scattered throughout the building for Google employees to discover over time (including directions on how to meditate).
Volume, ZGF, and SPMD worked together to create various art moments and experiences that fit with the overall building narrative we established.