Google submits plans to expand Silicon Valley headquarters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc submitted plans on Friday for a vastly expanded headquarters at the Silicon Valley city where the tech giant is based, presenting a bucolic vision of movable structures to be built under curving and translucent canopies. The submission of the plan to the City Council in Mountain View, California, which the company chose for its headquarters 15 years ago, marks the first step in what city officials describe as a long review process. The new headquarters would give the Internet company the room for an additional 10,000 employees, compared to the 20,000 Google staffers that currently work in the city, a Google spokeswoman said. Google's blueprint for new headquarters in the city's North Bayshore district has gathered widespread attention because the design is seen as architecturally innovative. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the plan also is closely watched due to concerns the technology industry's high salaries are pushing housing prices beyond levels affordable to most families. "Today we’re submitting a plan to redevelop four sites - places where we already have offices but hope to significantly increase our square footage - to the Mountain View City Council," David Radcliffe, Google's vice president of real estate, said in a company blog post. The design by architect Bjarke Ingels of the firm Bjarke Ingels Group and Thomas Heatherwick of architecture and design company Heatherwick Studio calls for block-like structures that Google says could be moved around to create space for teams to pursue different projects. It would add about 2.5 million square feet of space to the existing campus. Vast, clear canopies over the buildings would allow light to filter into the futuristic campus. There would be places for trees, grass and bicycle paths, all of it nestled into different parts of the campus. "They're very ambitious," Mountain View City Councilman Ken Rosenberg said of the blueprints. "They're taking what we know about building design and significantly advancing the concept." The proposal by Google, which is the city's leading source of property taxes, would contribute to more local prosperity but also increased traffic, he said. Rosenberg said he views the company's proposal within the plan to build 100 units of affordable housing as an acknowledgment to housing market problems. The city could demand more housing units in the North Bayshore area, he said. In 2013, Cupertino approved Apple Inc's plan for a spaceship-like campus, which is under construction. (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco, Writing and additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Diane Craft)