There’s a lot to take in when you visit Google’s Bay View campus. There are the dragonscale solar panels, the grassy wetlands surrounding the building and…the elevators. Yes, the elevators.
Bay View is a three-building campus composed of large, pavilion-like canopy structures, the highest point of which stands at 126 feet. Inside the two office buildings, there are multiple free-standing elevators that take Googlers to the upper floors designed for team focus. Nine of these elevators aren’t just elevators; they’re also works of art.
Google’s Artist in Residence program worked with local artists to commission work in Google spaces and turn the side panels of the elevators into giant murals. “Bay View is one of our larger projects,” says Josette Melchor, who’s part of Google’s Real Estate and Workplace Services team and oversees the Artist in Residence program’s efforts. “The idea was to create these inner courtyards throughout Bay View that reflect the ecology of the area.” The elevator shafts, which each stand between 32 and 37 feet high, are part of this; mural artists were given five “biomes,” or biological themes, to work with — grasslands, scrubs, dunes, oak savanna and tidal/marsh. The biomes also form courtyards that naturally help visitors find their way around Bay View.
Josette says from start to finish — from the concept stage to the final brushstrokes — the process of working with the mural artists took about a year and a half. “There’s a lot that goes into it that people might not think about,” says Andrea Ceseña, the project producer and curator who worked with the Bay View artists. For instance, all of the artists had to become scissor lift-certified so they could be lifted up to paint the entirety of the elevators. Artists also worked on their murals while occasionally surrounded by the people who would be seeing them everyday — Googlers who work in the Bay View building. People who were working on finishing Bay View also took in the art, Andrea says, which was rather unusual for an art project at Google. “It was about expanded the audience that artists normally have when they’re working on something,” Andrea says. “Everyone was so excited to see the artwork while it was in production.”
But instead of just telling you about these impressive projects, let’s take a quick tour of them — and meet the artists behind them.
Mural title: Untitled
Artist: Brett Flanigan
When you first walk into Bay View’s main entrance and make it through the front lobby area, you’ll notice Brett Flanigan’s elevator shaft mural to your left. Brett is a self-taught artist who says his degree in biology influences his work. “I first consider the initial conditions, including the surface and shape of the wall,” Brett says. “These inform the rules and algorithms I then use to create patterns, as geological events create the specific conditions for the formation of sand dunes.”