Google shows off new amenity-filled Ann Arbor office where lunch is free

ANN ARBOR, MICH. - Free snacks, lunch and coffee drinks and bring-your-dog-to-work privileges are a few of the perks enjoyed by 450 Google employees at the tech company's new amenity-filled Ann Arbor office.

Google is celebrating the official opening of its new primary office in Michigan: a three-story, 135,000-square-foot building at 2300 Traverwood Drive on the city's north side.

The building, which formerly housed a Google call center run by an outside contractor, received its first Google employees in spring 2016 after extensive renovations. Once the building's expansion is completed in the coming weeks, the office will be large enough to accommodate all of Google's Ann Arbor staff.

Previously, those workers were split between Google's former downtown Ann Arbor office and an overflow office near Briarwood Mall. The company has gradually expanded its presence in Ann Arbor since opening a small downtown office in 2006.

“When we were downtown, one of the issues we had is we were bursting at the seams," said Charles Scrase, Google Ann Arbor's co-site lead and director of Google Technical Services.

Google says it now has more than 600 employees in Michigan, including its office in Birmingham. That employment number does not include the new self-driving car development center in Novi that is operated by Waymo, which last year was spun out of Google's parent company, Alphabet.

The newly redone Ann Arbor office has eye-catching features including a dramatic central staircase and meeting rooms designed like libraries and color-filled caves. Inside, the office was teeming Thursday with casually-dressed employees mostly in their 20s and 30s, sitting and standing at desks in open-plan offices.

Google representatives wouldn't disclose the cost of the building's renovation and expansion, but said it was a significant investment and did not use any public subsidies or incentives.

The majority of Google's employees in the Ann Arbor office are selling Google advertising and servicing ad customers, providing technical support for ad customers and other Google employees, and recruiting new Google employees. Other employees in the building are working on developing new products, company officials said.

“It’s a big mix now compared to where it was when we opened," Scrase said.

Google's new office is also big on amenities. There are multiple free snacks stations and a coffee bar that offers free made-to-order drinks. Lunch is served on site and is also free.

Additionally, there is on-site laundry, a 24/7 fitness center, a full-time masseuse and a game room with ping pong, pool, arcade and other games.

"The building in general has amazing amenities for us," said Alexandra Rainone, 23, who moved to Ann Arbor from Washington, D.C., early this year to start an advertising job with Google. "I hope to stay here as long as I can."

Another perk: employees can bring dogs to work.

"If they have a family pet and a dog is well-behaved, why not have it?" Scrase said. "If it brings people joy and a little relaxation, that’s a good thing.”

Google employee Sam Panzer, 27, was accompanied in the office Thursday by his black 3½ -month-old poodle. Panzer, who moved to Ann Arbor from California this spring, said he brings Archie to work most days of the week.

"He just loves playing with people, so it's a great environment for him to be socialized," he said. "There's lots of other puppies for him to play with." 

© 2017, Detroit Free Press


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