Google has been raising eyebrows with the construction of three massive barges that are currently moored in San Francisco, Portland, and Maine. The Internet behemoth has been fairly tight-lipped about the barges, leaving news sources to speculate over their purpose. Are they floating data centers? Trendy party boats?
Web sleuths have finally cracked the code: Google intends to use the barges as mobile showrooms that will share new technology with the public. To put that in laymen’s terms, the barges will act as gigantic floating commercials for Google Glass and other brand-spanking-new Google gizmos. I have a sneaking suspicion that these barges will open their doors to the public at about the same time that Google Glass hits the market.
You’d expect something truly awesome with such an innovative and wealthy company involved, but the barges are, well… kind of ugly. I mean, when you think of Google, this doesn’t come to mind:
Where are the iconic red, blue, yellow, and green colors so often found alongside Google products? Where’s the sense of fun and positive thinking? These barges look like something you’d see in an industrial shipping yard! How can these barges possibly hold up to Google’s incredibly high standard?
We can answer that question thanks to the intrepid reporters over at the San Francisco Chronicle, who pried information out of Google thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. Design firms Gensler and LOK-EK are scheduled to give the barge in San Francisco a makeover, ditching its industrial look in favor of something a little bit more modern. The barge will feature collapsible sails “reminiscent of fish fins,” like an elegant, silvery eel that will travel around America, spouting good news about Google Glass.
Unfortunately, this picture is just an artistic rendering. The barge could end up looking nothing like the one in the picture, and on top of that we still have no idea what will happen with the other two barges. The documents that the San Francisco Chronicle uncovered make no mention of the barges in Portland and Maine, so we can’t be certain that they will get the same silvery sails.
Personally, I hope that Google goes in a different direction with the other two barges. It’s not that I dislike the design for the San Francisco barge or anything (it’s actually quite pretty), it’s just that they have two other opportunities to present a beautiful example of aquatic architecture, and I hope they take it.
I’m also quite curious to see whether these boats are temporary, or if they will become a permanent addition to the Google fleet. Is this just a temporary advertising stunt to drum up enthusiasm about Google Glass? Or will these boats spend the next 50 years sailing from port to port like a mobile Google retail store? For years, architects have been dreaming of a future of floating homes. Perhaps Google will beat everybody to the punch with floating malls and showrooms.
Stay tuned to Okeanos Group for updates on these mysterious Google barges. We can’t wait to see how these boats take shape to become floating beacons of technology and aquatic artwork. What’re your thoughts on the barges? Do you think that Google will make waves with its silvery sails design, or are the boats far too ugly to be salvaged?