Few tech companies are more widely known than Google, the search engine and information giant that revolutionized the internet and helped to make it an essential part of our everyday lives. The company has offices around the world, but the most "Googlers" (as employees are affectionately known) are based at the "Googleplex," the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
The Google office is a popular Silicon Valley and San Francisco sightseeing destination and is close to other popular attractions including The Computer History Museum in Downtown Mountain View and the Shoreline Amphitheater (outdoor concert venue).
However, there is no Googleplex tour or Google campus tour in Mountain View. The only way a member of the public can tour the inside of campus buildings is if they are escorted by an employee—so if you happen to have a friend who works there, ask them to show you around. However, you can walk around 12 acres of the campus unescorted.
Location, History, and Construction
The Googleplex address is 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, California, and contains Charleston Park, a city park that's open to the public. The company operates dozens of buildings in the area, but the central campus lawn is in front of Building #43 and you can park in one of the visitor parking lots adjacent to that lawn. The company has an on-campus Google Visitor's Center (1911 Landings Drive, Mountain View), but it is only open to employees and their guests.
Previously occupied by Silicon Graphics (SGI), the campus was first leased by Google in 2003. Clive Wilkinson Architects redesigned the interiors in 2005, though, and in June of 2006, Google purchased Googleplex, among other properties owned by SGI.
Google plans a 60-acre addition designed by Bjarke Ingels in North Bayshore and has commissioned architects Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick to create a new design for the Mountain View campus.
In February 2015, they submitted their proposed plan to the Mountain View City Council. The project features airy indoor-outdoor design and lightweight moveable structures that can grow and change with the company.
What to See on Googleplex Campus
If you have a chance to tour the campus because you know a friend who works there, be sure to check out a well-marked Google campus map first, then get ready to experience work like you've never seen it.
At the Googleplex Campus, you're sure to see the multi-colored bicycles that Googlers use to get between campus buildings and strange works of art including a life-size Tyrannosaurs Rex skeleton often hung with pink, plastic flamingos, and an assortment of quirky stone busts of celebrities and scientists; there is also a sand volleyball court, jumbo cartoon figures depicting each version of the Android operating system, and an on-campus Google Merchandise Store.
Additionally, the Google campus has organic gardens where they grow many of the fresh vegetables used in the campus restaurants, solar panels covering all the parking garages providing power that's used to re-charge Googlers electric cars and supplement power of the nearby buildings; and the GARField (Google Athletic Recreation Field) Park, Google-owned sports fields and tennis courts that are opened up to public use on nights and weekends.
Getting to the Googleplex
For employees, Google provides a free shuttle from San Francisco, the East Bay, or the South Bay that's enabled with Google Wi-Fi and runs on 95 percent petroleum-diesel and five percent biodiesel with an engine featuring the latest in emissions-reduction technology.
Via public transit, you can take the 104 Tamien Caltrain from San Francisco's 4th and King Street Station to Mountain View Station then take the West Bayshore Shuttle operated by MVGo, which drops you off right at the Google Campus.
If you're driving from San Francisco, take the US-101 South to the Rengstorff Avenue exit in Mountain View, then follow Rengstorff Avenue and Amphitheatre Parkway to your destination. Approximate driving distance from the city center in San Francisco to the Google campus is 35.5 miles and should take about 37 minutes in usual traffic.