Visitors to Google's tech campus in Mountain View can walk right up to the front doors of the Googleplex, enjoying the views of the public courtyard outside one of the largest companies in the world. But that could change soon.
In an effort to reduce security risks at all of the company's sites, Google is looking to revamp its 1995 headquarters -- along with a second North Bayshore office building currently under construction -- and clamp down on public access. The plan is to erect fences around the buildings and divert the public onto adjacent trails.
As it stands today, Google's tech park is remarkably open. The Googleplex, as its known, is made up of four office buildings and a central courtyard with public access for bicyclists and pedestrians, while the upcoming Charleston East project has a path right through the center of the building that will have cafes and retail. The company's approach stands in stark contrast to Apple's "spaceship" campus in Cupertino, which is closed to the public and practically impossible to see from outside the security perimeter.
Under a new proposal, Google is looking to cut off access to the Googleplex courtyard, putting up 9-foot, 6-inch tall fences at all access points and constructing a new public path along Charleston Road. Rather than make the barriers an eyesore, the company says the security fencing is custom designed by an artist and will be painted in a "rainbow cascade." Moving the path means removing 141 parking spaces and 31 heritage trees.
Google is also reneging on its plans to allow public access into the Charleston East building, a 595,000-square-foot project at 2000 N. Shoreline Boulevard that's still under construction. The new proposal is to push the publicly accessible retail space onto the west side of the building, keeping people out of the interior of the office building.
A representative from Google did not comment on the nature of the security concerns, but said in an email that the changes will make other parts of the tech park "more accessible and enjoyable," including a public plaza and art installments.
Though Google and its subsidiaries have offices all over the Bay Area, the company's North Bayshore headquarters has high-profile buildings that attract plenty of attention. From protests to unusual grievances related to YouTube, numerous people have ben arrested over the years while trespassing on Google's property. The company previously hired a private security firm, but now uses an in-house team.
In 2018, a woman opened fire at the San Bruno headquarters of YouTube, one of Google's subsidiaries. She wounded three people.
More details about Google's proposed security changes can found online. The Mountain View City Council is scheduled to have a hearing via videoconference on the proposal on Tuesday, Feb. 23.