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(Pittsburgh) On Tuesday, the Google offices in Pittsburgh opened it’s doors to the media for an official Open House. TechBurgh was invited to participate so Andy sent me to see what the new office looks like.

imageThis open house is a celebration regarding Google’s move from CMU’s CIT building to the recently remodeled Bakery Square in East Liberty. In 2005, Google opened it’s Pittsburgh office with only two employees and quickly outgrew it’s office on the CMU campus. Now with 150 employees the new office is large enough to grow beyond 250.

Upon arriving I was greeted by many Google employees (Googlers) in coveted Google tshirts. There was a pool game in progress and I saw people playing something on XBox Kinect. After checking in I was encouraged to explore the common room just past reception. There is a lot of entertainment in the room. An antique pinball machine (apparently connected to a server to collect game stats), an old bakery mixer left by Nabisco, a handful of stations to showcase Google products, and the pool table. This room also has a stocked mini kitchen and a fantastic view of East Liberty and the east end.

My first stop in the common room was the reCaptcha station. In a nutshell reCaptcha is a free anti-bot service that helps digitize books.  I’ve seen presentation on this service while attending a CMU Olympus presentation. This station also had a small feature on the recently announced Google eBookstore.image

The next station featured the Sky project. This project was very cool because it was new to me. Much like Google Earth you can view the Solar System, Mars and the surface of the Moon. They have a great Android app for Google Sky as well. The other two stations feature Google Apps and Products but there wasn’t anything new so we’ll skip ahead.

imageNext I took a complete tour of the office. Moving out of the first common room we walked past a few Employee only hallways and into a comfortable room that was the old freight elevator shaft. Google currently uses this room as a small library with books on every type of programing language and a few science fiction selections as well. Google stocks the room with a few ebook readers should a traveling employee need to keep a code bible on hand. Above the library is a game room we didn’t see. Being an avid gamer myself, I was a little disappointed the tour didn’t go to the loft.

Next we walked back through the common room to a large open room used for large group meetings, teleconferences, and other needs. The chairs get cleared out once or twice a week for yoga.

As the tour worked it’s way through the office we saw into small meeting rooms. Each one is equipped with easy video conferencing technology for meetings with the main office in Mountain View, California. There were many meeting spaces that are open and comfortable, including one meeting space that is suspended above a kitchen area. I got to climb into this space and I must say it is the most unique meeting space I’ve ever seen.

Another collaborative room was designed for playing music and video games. This was located just down the hall from the room with massage therapy on Tuesdays. It is clear that Google goes out of its way to give employees creative and mind clearing spaces.

imagePerhaps the most profound aspect to the office is how easy it is to get food whenever you need it. Part of Google’s mission is to provide food for employees. I saw chefs moving about the office and counted four mini kitchens and a salad bar. These kitchens were spread throughout the two story office space.

After the tour all the guests were gathered into the large teleconference room where we sat down for the press conference. The messages given from Google focused on how they view Pittsburgh as a world center for computer science. The company is dedicated to being here and supporting the institutions and graduates that make up their employee roster. Representatives from CMU spoke about the move off of the campus and into Bakery Square. Google just simply out grew its old space.

imageMayor Luke Ravenstahl also gave a few remarks about how successful the Bakery Square project has been. He was glad all the partners including the City could make the development project happen. The Mayor concluded his speech with a humorous inquiry into the Google Fiber Project and expressed interest as a City to be chosen by Google.

See the WPXI Story and Video here

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Author: Norm Huelsman

Co-Organizer of PodCamp Pittsburgh.