Last week, Google released fantastically utopian design plans for its proposed new 500-acre headquarters in Mountain View. While Apple's new headquarters in Cupertino looks like a spaceship, Google's comes across as a space colony in the airy, whimsical drawings. They look like the future. (And it's a future that Google hopes Mountain View's city planners will prefer to the alternative futures imagined by other companies that would like to build on the land.)
But then we started looking more closely at the drawings, and we noticed some strange, amusing and bizarre details in Google's future. Zoom in with us.
She peeled out of the office and left a bunch of her co-workers behind.
The Google campus of the future is served by San Francisco Muni buses. Sorry, Googlers, no wi-fi on those.
This exhausted dude has to pull a coffee klatch around campus because the robots are too busy taking over the world.
There is a bookstore on campus. And there are actually people in it.
This guy is walking on air because he loves the new Google campus so much.
"We're making sure we make spaces open and accessible," said Google VP of real estate Dave Radcliffe in a video that accompanied the proposed plans. "It's not just for Googlers, it's for anyone in the area to come by."
Apparently, anyone in the area might include a green-robed man who could be a Shaolin monk raring for a battle, or just a neighbor who accepted Radcliffe's invitation and wandered over to the Google campus in his bathrobe hoping for a free breakfast.
Cyclists win the sidewalk wars in Google's future. There are indoor bike paths.
Only women do yoga in the future, and they do it in as public a place as possible so that everyone can see their warrior poses and downward-facing dogs.
There are no cafeterias in the renderings, so Googlers might just have to forage for food from the decorative trees.
If you're staring at your smartphone or obsessed with your camera, you won't notice the headless dog sneaking up behind you until it is too late.
Google's biodome includes a farm and farmers, so Googlers will survive and inherit the earth after zombies or a plague strikes.
And Google doesn't even make them smoke e-cigarettes.
This woman is not going to get hired.
But he happens to be an X-Man who is about to shoot lasers out of his fist as soon as he finishes that San Pellegrino.
Perhaps this is work-appropriate attire in the future.
Either that, or the other one went out of business already, and this is the 'Free books, please take' pile.
In the promotional video, the architects explain this oddness. Bjarke Ingels says, "Instead of having buildings as boxes with walls and floor, dissolve the building into a simple super transparent ultra light membrane…" The other architect Thomas Heatherwick finishes the sentence for him: "Creating the effect of a piece of glass fabric and draping it across some tentpoles so we're blurring the outside world and the inside world."
It appears that Google's future will be blurry, in more ways than one.