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'Frustrated' AHMM staff leave over Google delays

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Ongoing delays on AHMM’s proposed office headquarters for Google in King’s Cross have prompted the departure of a number of ‘exasperated and frustrated’ staff

The AJ understands a number of architects who spent years working on the plans for a £1billion flagship office on the north London site have recently left the practice.

After completing proposals and obtaining planning permission for the US search engine in September 2013, AHMM was asked to go back to the drawing board ‘for a more ambitious’ scheme (see AJ 06.11.13).

It is believed the burgeoning AJ100 big hitter, which had more than 50 architects working on the job at one time, was never given a rigid client brief but told to draw up ‘what they thought could be achieved’.

That process was completed in 2014. Since then, it is understood continuing discussions have taken place between the London end of Google and the California headquarters but without any decision to proceed with the design strategy.

The internet giant has refused to confirm a start date either with the architects, or with King’s Cross developer Argent, which sold Google their site on a 999-year lease for more than £550m in 2012.

Elsewhere around the globe Google is using other designers, including Thomas Heatherwick and the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) which are working on a suite of buildings for the company at its Mountain View location.

AHMM’s Simon Allford would not comment on the individual departures but said: ‘We are busy with Google looking at many projects but of course slow progress on the King’s Cross headquarters is frustrating, and at times exasperating, for all involved. However, we continue to enjoy an excellent and creative relationship with Google London.

Allford stated: ‘Indeed we’ve developed a detailed concept for endlessly reconfigurable spaces which can be built from scratch using a structure and envelope system which is fully researched.  This detailed concept can also be inserted into an existing building  and we are now constructing this as 34,500m² ‘prototype’ which will test our ideas within the shell of the King’s Cross building, formerly for BNP Paribas.

‘We’re also proposing versions of this idea for sites in Dublin, Berlin, Zurich and beyond.’

He added: ‘Working with Google is a highly stimulating experience and we have shared all our London-based research and detailed ideas with Google California. We recently gave a very detailed presentation on the above to Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick who are working on projects for Google on the west coast.’

A spokesperson for Google said they ‘had nothing to share on this [project] at the moment’.

Previous story (AJ 02.05.14)

AHMM’s Google HQ designs delayed

AHMM has refused to comment on speculation that the design review of Google’s £650million UK headquarters could take as long as two years

Last November the search engine giant ordered the practice to draw up a ‘more ambitious’ design for Google’s proposed new flagship office building at King’s Cross.

However, overnight reports quoting sources close to the London scheme suggest the evaluation could take as long as two years due to Google conducting an international review of planned worldwide projects including the development of a global HQ in Mountain View, California. 

AHMM co-founder Simon Allford said: ‘We’re delighted to be working on exciting projects with Google at King’s Cross and Dublin. Sometimes architecture is fast - pop ups - sometimes slower - major buildings.’

Meanwhile it has emerged Mossessian & Partners has landed a major office scheme on a nearby plot within the Argent-backed redevelopment north of King’s Cross station.

Michel Mossessian was among the architects who presented ideas to the developer as part of the AJ/Argent charrette back in 2006.

Argent would not release details about the commission, however a spokesperson said: ‘Mossessian & Partners is one of many practices that we are working with on a variety of buildings across the development.

‘At present that work is at an early stage and remains subject to the normal design reviews and stakeholder consultations that all King’s Cross buildings go through.’

Mossessian was unavailable for comment.

Previous story (AJ 06.11.13)

AHMM to start again on Google HQ designs

Google has told AHMM to redesign its plans for the search engine giant’s proposed new London headquarters at King’s Cross

The practice has been asked to come up with a ‘more ambitious’ design for the US-based internet company’s flagship office building - just two months after successfully steering the original proposals for a huge 93,000m², £650million development through planning (AJ 06.09.13).

It is understood the ‘review of the detailed design for the building’ will sit within the floor plan of the previous scheme just to the north of King’s Cross station’s new concourse.

David Clementi, chairman of the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership said: We fully understand Google’s reasons for reviewing their requirements at King’s Cross and we look forward to working with them to create the headquarters that they aspire to.’

Subject to planning approval, Google’s staff are now scheduled to move in during 2017. The scheme was originally planned to open in late 2016.

AHMM's original proposals for Google new HQ (approved September 2013) - model shot

AHMM’s original proposals for Google new HQ (approved September 2013) - model shot


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