The most ambitious project unveiled by Google this year isn’t a smartphone, website, or autonomous, suborbital balloon from the Google X lab. You can’t hold it, or download it, or share it instantly with friends. In fact, the first part of it probably won’t exist for at least three years. But you can read all about it in hundreds of pages of soaring descriptions and conceptual drawings, which the company submitted in February to the local planning office of Mountain View, Calif.
The vision outlined in these documents, an application for a major expansion of the Googleplex, its campus, is mind-boggling. The proposed design, developed by the European architectural firms of Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio, does away with doors. It abandons thousands of years of conventional thinking about walls. And stairs. And roofs. Google and its imaginative co-founder and chief executive, Larry Page, essentially want to take 60 acres of land adjacent to the headquarters near the San Francisco Bay, in an area called North Bayshore, and turn it into a titanic human terrarium.