Since the dawn of time, people have dreamed of taking to the sky to experience the joy of flight. In 1783, two brothers made history when they ascended over the French countryside in a hot air balloon. One hundred and twenty years later, another pair of brothers made
the first powered flight in a homemade gasoline-burning airplane over a field in North Carolina.
In 1947 the H-4 Hercules, nicknamed the Spruce Goose for it’s huge wood frame (actually made from birch, not spruce), flew briefly out over the Pacific Ocean. The flight lasted less than a minute, but it was a huge technical achievement for aeronautics — a precursor to today’s jumbo jets — and for designer and pilot Howard Hughes.
It’s clear that humans are fascinated by flight, both literally and figuratively.
On a warm day early in November, I was invited to tour Google’s new Playa Vista offices built inside the former Hughes Aviation hangar where the Spruce Goose was born seven decades ago. Though I didn’t get to see the entire 450,000 square feet of the cathedral-like four-story hangar, I was stunned by what I did see.
Every little detail of the design inside the carefully restored wooden structure has been carefully thought through with the utmost reverence to both the legacy of Howard Hughes and the future of technology as a whole, proving that Google is indeed a place where ideas take flight. The tour started out with a “perception sculpture” that at first glance appears to be a cloud of metal spheres until you step back and a ghostly image of the Spruce Goose magically emerges.
I’m not surprised such a marvelous piece of reimagined architecture exists in Playa Vista. All the people who live, work and play here regard their workspaces, living spaces and outdoor spaces as a reflection of themselves — or at least the people they aspire to be: kind, intelligent, cutting-edge, aesthetically pleasing, and with a wealth of resources.
Welcome, Googlers! We’re happy to have you here. May your dreams take flight.
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