Google’s new downtown office embraces diversity, weirdness of Austin

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Google is expanding its Austin office to 10 floors and revamping the workplace with modern, stimulating architecture.

According to Jason Stanford, communications director for Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Google’s dedication to Austin can be attributed to the creative workforce that colleges in Austin, such as UT, provide.

“The presence of these colleges is absolutely vital — large companies’ interest wouldn’t be as big without them,” Stanford said. “It isn’t an accident that our economy is based on innovative ideas coming out of the largest and best universities, such as UT and ACC.”

Business senior lecturer Clint Tuttle echoes these sentiments, talking about how access to innovative thinkers is a key part of companies’ decisions to expand.

“When companies are thinking about where to put a new headquarters or office, they search for cities that thrive economically have a lot of talent,” Tuttle said. “Colleges are a concentrated place to find that. So, it’s no surprise that Google chose to expand its Austin office.”

International relations and global studies junior Yasmin Alfurati, an intern in the Community Leaders Program at Google’s Austin office, said Google’s commitment to diversity is vital in a heterogenous city like Austin.

“Whenever I visited the new (office), I immediately noticed the diverse group of people,” Alfurati said. “As a woman of color interested in STEM, I thought that I would be surrounded by a homogeneous group of people. However, Google understands the importance of representation and inclusivity.”

Tuttle commented on how a commitment to diversity from successful technology companies also entails the inclusion of neurodivergent thinkers, in addition to demographic diversity.

“When trying to create a company that will thrive, you need diverse perspectives that bring up diverse ideas,” Tuttle said. “It’s not just about ethnic diversity — it’s also about diversity in the way you think. And Austin has a lot of divergent thinkers.”

The office is distinguished by its unique architecture, according to Alfurati. She said that juxtaposing greens, such as vines and grass patios, with technology perfectly symbolizes Austin.

“Despite the fact that this is a tech space, they really try to incorporate greenery and nature (into) the architecture of the building,” Alfurati said. “This is very reflective of Austin in general, because although Austin is known for being one of the best tech cities in the country, it’s also known for its natural attractions.”

Architecture professor Lawrence Speck said that while large tech companies such as Google routinely employ stimulating and unique work environments, credit must be given to the “weirdness” of Austin that makes the implementation of such unusual architecture possible.

“What the architects are trying to do is make you feel stimulated,” Speck said. “We’re the kind of city that attracts those companies — we’re weird. The values and the people of Austin are what Google wants.”

Speck added that this cultural match between company and city is an important aspect to pay attention to when companies consider expanding.

“Companies go to places where their cultural values fit with a city,” Speck said. “Google fits with Austin, so it’s no accident that they came.”

Alfurati said that the casual approach to important work among Google employees stood out to her the most.

“Everyone’s dressed in casual clothing,” Alfurati said. “It really embodies the chill vibe of Austin.”