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Google turns five this month, five months old since opening its new building on 15th and 9th Avenue in October 2006. To celebrate, Gothamist went on an official tour, complete with watching a game of ping-pong, getting a sneak peak at the famous lunch, and waving at scooter riders whizzing down the hallways, making it by far one of the coolest places to work in Manhattan.

2007_02_scooter.jpgThe 300,000 square foot Chelsea building which serves as Google’s largest sales office and second largest engineering office, was converted from the Port Authority building. Its design was developed by not only architects, but a project team which included “the end users-the employees,” explained Facilities Manager Laura Gimple.

From those suggestions, the floor plan evolved to include approximately four micro kitchens equipped with snacks, a game room, idea boards, a lecture hall, two cafes, majestic ten foot tall windows, and conference rooms named for New York City landmarks, such as Belvedere Castle and Rockefeller Center, geographically placed around the building from East to West to correspond with their actual locations. For Facilities Manager Laura Gimple who supervised the design and manages the operations of the building, she says, “I think it’s so fun because there is no limit, anything is possible because we are such a creative environment...the employees can really express themselves.” That creativity is evident throughout the building.

The fourth floor lobby of Google’s NYC headquarters is as bright and bold as its homepage, accented by a gigantic Google Earth which virtually transports you to view any location in the world as it zooms in on places throughout the day. The primary colors of Google’s logo are reflected throughout the office where every day of the week Google makes life colorful for its employees. Tuesday afternoons, employees enjoy tea and in the evenings relax with Yoga. On Wednesdays, they exercise with pilates.

By Thursday the office is ready to celebrate with TGIF- Thank God It’s Almost Friday- with different teams sponsoring themes, most recently the audio team coordinated karaoke. And twice a month authors come to “campus” to lecture. And those are just the designated days—everyday, employees can head into Game Room, converted from the Port Authority’s old loading dock, to play ping pong, Air Guitar, foosball, and pool or enjoy a relaxing massage in a chair. The game room was the lead in the December New York Times article about the company.

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2007_02_good11.jpgInstead of heading offsite for lunch, employees choose from healthy and diversified options in two cafés, the preparations for which begin around the time most people are just eating breakfast. Local products from nearby farms and sustainable food comprise the menus, as well as employee requests. The chefs will even share recipes with you if you have a favorite dish because the rotation of food options is so frequent, odds are that you won’t see it again, shared Google spokesperson Sunny Gettinger. Nutritional facts, dubbed “Foodles,” complement the food stations in the dining hall. For example, did you know that “Chili peppers help prevent ulcers and break up mucus in the lungs” and “Garbanzo beans are high in protein and fiber and food for lowering blood pressure.”

Chef Gary Gibson loves preparing the meals because of “the freedom to be creative,” he explained, “at many places you don’t have the chance to work with such great products and it’s refreshing that a company finds it rewarding to work with such great products.” The food at Google has created one of the biggest buzzes. New York Magazine which featured a piece solely on what’s for lunch:

Of course, like most modern companies, there is a level of flexibility for employees if they need to work from home. But, with such an amazing office who wouldn’t want to come into work every day?