Google is using its might to show the whole world what good construction can look like and it’s time everyone paid attention
ZGF partnered with Google to transform the landmark Spruce Goose Hangar in Playa Vista, California. A 450,000+ SF, four-level “building-within-a-building” was developed inside the seven-story, 750-foot-long historic wooden structure. Built by Howard Hughes in 1943 for the construction of the Hercules IV airplane (aka the “Spruce Goose”), the hangar now comprises office, meeting, food service and event spaces, and employee amenity spaces.
Source: Google, Spruce Goose | ZGF
Landfill diversion from offices currently sits at 78% and Google is focusing on construction and deconstruction to contribute to its circular vision. Google has been implementing interior ‘salvage and reuse’ at the interior building scale since 2012. Last year, the company started work with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to explore the triple bottom line benefits of deconstruction.
Douglas fir steps with amphitheater seating ascend from the entry to the cafeteria. Photography by Connie Zhou.
Google and ZGF Architects had already worked together on six projects, but this would be the largest effort that either had ever undertaken in the realm of adaptive reuse. “The outcome was unknown when we embarked on the project,” Google project executive R.G. Kahoe says. “But we knew we could do something amazing, a moon-shot idea, as well as being the correct stewards for the building.”
Courtesy of Google
As if that weren’t enough to draw your eyes upward, there are several dozen beautiful wooden “glu-lam” arches that climb the walls, which were built in 1943, when the hangar was originally created (the building was used by Howard Hughes to construct the H4 Hercules, known as the “Spruce Goose,” which famously flew only once for less than a minute).
With Portico, Google would help cities identify any faulty materials found in buildings. While the technology does encourage reusing materials as much as possible, these materials have to prove safe. If they don’t, they get recycled to turn into something new for the city to use later on.
Another tool, called Portico, tracks the health of materials used in buildings. Google has used it internally in about 200 of its own buildings. “If you envision this world in which you’re endlessly cycling materials back into the system, it’s really critical that you know what’s in them, and that you know there’s nothing harmful,” says Brandt. Digital tools can also be used to create online marketplaces for reused building materials.
The hangar that used to house the Spruce Goose (Photo by Mike Hume via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
The hangar is massive, with an area of 319,000-square-feet. It had to be huge because The Spruce Goose had eight propeller engines and a wingspan longer than a football field, according to The History Channel. Google is expected to use the hangar as an expansion of its L.A. offices. There is no word about a move-in date, or what the company will do with the adjacent land it purchased in 2014.
Every time we work with something that already exists rather than creating something new, we’re conserving resources. Google just announced one such example, the conversion of an old coal-fired power plant to a data center that will use green technology.