Thursday, June 05, 2008

Google To Expand Headquarters At NASA Site

Internet search leader Google announced plans Wednesday to greatly expand its Mountain View, California Google Logoheadquarters onto a portion of the adjacent National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Ames Research Center, beginning in 2013. Up to 1.2 million square feet of research and development buildings and offices will be built under the 40-year agreement with NASA, a campus-style expansion that would be large enough to accommodate up to 5,000 workers. Google has roughly 20,0000 employees worldwide, with 8,000 working at its so-called Googleplex headquarters slated for expansion.

Google Lease May Extend To 90 Years

The expansion, which is expected to take place in three stages finishing in 2022, will see Mountain View's largest employer build company housing and facilities for such employee amenities as dining, exercise, childNational Aeronautics and Space Administration care and parking on presently unimproved Ames Research Center land, Google said Wednesday in an announcement. Conference facilities were also slated to be built as part of the expansion, and Google said that some improvements would be made available to NASA workers, such as parking and recreation facilities.

Google real estate and workplace services vice president David Radcliffe viewed the agreement, which would extend to as many as 90 years if five 10-year term extensions were exercised, as an example of Google's commitment to the area, despite the company's rapidly growing business outside the United States. "This long-term lease agreement is a key component of Google's strategy for continued growth in Silicon Valley," Radcliffe said in Wednesday's announcement. "We believe this collaboration between Google, NASA and the city of Mountain View is emblematic of the mutually beneficial partnerships that can be created between the public and private sectors," Radcliffe added.

Under the terms of the agreement Google can choose to extend the initial four decade lease for three 10-year periods, with the option to extend the lease two additional decade-long terms after that.

Expanding On Past Google Joint Projects With NASA

Land appraisals leading up to the agreement determined that the fair market value of the land Google will develop were used to arrive at the initial yearly base rent of $3.66 million Google will pay, although the deal allows for periodic rent adjustments.

In expanding the Googleplex, which presently consists of dozens of mostly single-story and low-rise office buildings, Google will be extending a relationship with NASA that dates back to September 2005, when the two organizations announced an agreement to team up on certain research and development projects.

"With this new campus, we will establish a new era of expanded collaboration with Google that will further enhance our Silicon Valley connections," said NASA Ames director S. Pete Worden. "This major expansion of NASA Research Park supports NASA's mission to lead the nation in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research," Worden added Wednesday.

Once the expansion is complete, Google said its existing office space of some 2 million square feet would be increased to 3 million, according to Radcliffe.

Ames Facility Use Has Drawn Local Criticism

Some local residents have criticized certain aspects of NASA's cooperation with Google, such as last year's $1.3 million per year agreement that gave the search firm's top executives - co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and chief executive Eric Schmidt - the right to land their fleet of planes at NASA's Moffett Field, which is typically closed to private air traffic.Google Homepage

When that agreement was made public last year, Lenny Siegel, then director of a local non-profit group called the Pacific Studies Center, questioned the motives behind the landing rights deal. "If they are doing science missions, that's OK," Siegel said at the time. "If they are doing it just because they are rich and popular, it is not OK," Siegel added.

Siegel, now an employee of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, was more accepting of Google's latest agreement with NASA, which will see more on-site housing for Google workers. "That's the kind of thing people in the community wanted to see: mixed-use and high-tech," Siegel is quoted as saying in a San Jose Mercury News report.

Google To Expand Headquarters At NASA Site

For the past several years NASA has been seeking tenants to rent unused portions of its Ames facility, which it has described as "a world-class, shared-use educational and research-and-development campus," to help SearchEngineWorldwith the costs of maintaining the one-time air station, and it said Wednesday that the proceeds from agreement with Google would be used for maintenance, capital revitalization, and upgrades to the property at Ames. When Google begins development there it will join other organizations ranging from universities to start-ups which are presently tenants in other sections of the center.

Joint projects developed from Google's relationship with NASA have included a "NASA" layer within Google Earth, a popular mapping application which the company recently made available through the Web in addition to its installed software version, along with high-resolution images of the moon for its Google Moon program.

Google and NASA have also worked together in a project called Planetary Content, which was formed to make it easier for scientists and researchers to publish planetary information online, and a program to help improve early response to large natural disasters.

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