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Planes galore at Google's new Spruce Goose hangar office

Planes galore at Google's new Spruce Goose hangar office
Inside Google's new office at the historic Spruce Goose hangar, the wooden spine of the building connects to the newer white office structure. The complex is more than 450,000 square feet. (Photo provided by Google and taken by Connie Zhou)

Google on Thursday offered a glimpse into its new Playa Vista office inside the historic Spruce Goose hangar, transforming the cavernous space into a work space fit for Silicon Beach.

The more than 450,000 square foot complex is 4 stories tall. Inside the space, the hangar’s wooden spine is connected to new interior white office structure. Images of planes are featured throughout the building, including in the form of colorful paper airplanes that Googlers can make and throw from a higher level to see if they meet a large target on the floor below.

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It’s a nod to the hangar’s history as the home of the nation’s largest wooden airplane, the H-4 Hercules, known as the Spruce Goose, during the 1940s. Some doubted whether the 200-ton plane could fly, but aviation pioneer Howard Hughes proved them wrong.

“It reaches to the ethos of Google and taking risks and making the impossible, possible,” said R.G. Kahoe, a Google real estate project executive for the Southwest.

Google’s expansion comes as Silicon Valley is facing rising real estate costs and fewer places to grow. Some cities, including Google’s hometown of Mountain View, have successfully pushed large employers to pay more for their impact on the community, which critics say could cause firms to move jobs elsewhere.

Tech companies including Google, Apple and Amazon are expanding in Southern California as they delve into the entertainment industry. Next summer, the new Google complex will open sound stages for productions for its entertainment division, YouTube.

During a media event at the hangar, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti touted the availability of space in the region, which he said is not as geographically constricted as Silicon Valley.

“Here you can really expand,” Garcetti said. "This is going to be a place where breakthroughs are witnessed and willed to life by innovators."

Google says it employs about 1,000 people in Los Angeles and declined to say how many people will work inside the hangar. YouTube and Google employees will be located there, but the company declined to say specifically what types of workers.

MATT Construction and Portland-based ZGF Architects were Google’s partners on the project.

Construction on the project began two years ago. Kristi Paulson, a principal at ZGF Architects, said when she first saw the hangar the wood was covered with paint and windows were boarded up. There was an effort to brighten the space through natural light by adding skylights in the ceiling. The design was intended to encourage employees to walk around.

“This is not a static office space,” Paulson said. “Google is not a static company.”

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