Nov 12, 2013 (04:11 AM EST)
Google Barge: 10 Informative Images
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
Google's mysterious barge project has been revealed to be a floating technology showroom. (So much for the wild party theories.)
"Although it's still early days and things may change, we're exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology," Google said in a statement.
Confirming a report published a week ago by San Francisco TV station KPIX, the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday said documents obtained from the Port of San Francisco through a FOIA request describe the project as a "studio" and a "temporary technology exhibit space."
The Port of San Francisco provided these documents to InformationWeek, offering a more complete picture of a project that Google itself acknowledges may change.
"Temporary" appears to be the key word here because a fixed floating facility would require special approval of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), which has indicated that a permanent moored commercial structure isn't permissible under current law. Permanent changes to the bay, known as landfill or fill, are restricted under the McAteer-Petris Act.
Email messages between Diane Oshima, assistant deputy director of waterfront planning for the Port of San Francisco, and attorneys at Perkins Coie indicate that Google has been negotiating for maritime berthing rather than permanent mooring to avoid fill regulations.
"...BCDC regulates barges like fill if left in place for extended periods, rather than treating [them] as [subject to] maritime berthing [rules]," one email says.
Consequently, Google's barge-borne technology showroom will move periodically to different locations. The correspondence between the negotiating parties suggests Google will be able to keep its vessel docked in San Francisco Bay for 53 days during a given year. Another document indicates that the barge will not remain moored at any one pier more than a month.
Google calls its showroom "The By and Large Studio." By and Large LLC is the company applying for the berthing permit for its barge. It appears to be a Google shell company: Documents filed with the Port of San Francisco indicate that its president is James Marocco, finance director at Google; that its secretary is Kenneth Yi, securities and corporate governance counsel at Google; and that the sole member is Google Inc.
The By and Large proposal describes the structure in cultural terms rather than as a project designed to benefit a specific commercial company. "The By and Large Studio will be a new, unique addition to the San Francisco waterfront," the August 2013 Information Packet says. "The artistic structure combines innovative architecture with a bit of nautical whimsy -- creating a surprising environment that inspires conversation, community and 'aha' moments."
At the same time, Google is said to be preparing to launch a series of retail stores. We predicted as much in December 2012, and in February 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is preparing to launch a number of retail stores in the U.S.
When Google's floating cultural exhibit opens to the public, it will be interesting to see which brands and technology platforms are featured. Chances are you won't see many Apple devices amid the nautical whimsy. Take a closer look at what we've learned so far.
The By and Large Studio was designed by architecture firms LOT-EK and Gensler. The 13,726-square-foot exhibition space was constructed with recycled shipping containers. It's not yet clear whether Google plans to sell any goods on board or whether it will limit itself to evangelism.
"The exhibition space will be a platform for local organizations to engage with guests and gain visibility in a unique way," the proposal explains. "We envisioned this space with community in mind -- a surprising environment that is accessible to all and inspires conversation about how everything is connected -- shore birds, me, you, the sea, the fog, and much more."
Perhaps coincidentally, the room in this drawing looks similar to the room on Google's Mountain View campus where the company fitted Glass Explorers for the first time.
"Strategic plans have been developed to manage lines so not to overwhelm neighbors and passersby," the proposal says. "We believe this curious and visually stunning structure will be a welcome addition to the waterfront; an experience unlike any other that celebrates community, local organizations, and the history of San Francisco Bay."
Google anticipates handling 1,000 visitors a day, 150 at any given time, with a maximum occupancy estimated at 215.
There will be 50+ security cameras in the facility, which will be monitored locally (with the possibility of remote monitoring in case of emergency). There will be guards, medical personnel and duress buttons (to warn of onboard crime or threats) at various places in the vessel.
Planned hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with potential additional private events.
"We intend to take small vessels alongside the landing and allow guests to come aboard by water," the proposal explains. "This may be a common occurrence for private events and high-profile arrivals."
It's unlikely that Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt's yacht qualifies as a "small vessel."
After a year or so in San Francisco Bay, Google expects its barge to visit other coastal cities, like San Diego.
The flags help distinguish Google's structure from a houseboat and should attract attention. Chances are passersby will be able to hear the flags from afar on a windy day.
The shipping container in the rear most likely accommodates the onboard diesel generator and sewage storage tank, which are designed for use when shore-based power and plumbing aren't available.
From the look of the barge's proposed schedule, Google had hoped to open its ship to visitors this month. The schedule mentions San Diego as a destination after November 2014. Seattle also seems like a possible port of call.
A shot of the portable diesel generator that would be stored on the pier where Google's exhibit hall is docked.
To ensure onsite network availability, Google plans to deploy the pictured S8 Sheltered Trailer Towers, which come with a generator for situations when power isn't available from the grid.