Google’s new Ann Arbor expansion complete

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — As Google’s expansion of its new campus headquarters on Ann Arbor’s north side nears completion, the tech giant will soon consolidate its 450 employees in the city under one roof.

Google employees receive are free lunches in the cafeteria.

Company officials gave a tour Thursday of 135,000-square-foot office building in advance of a celebration program planned Friday for the building, which includes games like foosball and shuffleboard, free lunches and a laundry.

The Google campus on Traverwood Drive near the North Campus of the University of Michigan gives the company room to grow, said Karen Godwin, Google Ann Arbor co-site lead and director of Google Marketing Solutions.

“That’s part of our celebration ... to really reflect that we’ve planted roots here in Michigan and we’re proud to be having that impact,” Godwin said. “We made that decision to open a campus that allows that growth.”

Beginning in 2006, Google occupied space at McKinley Towne Centre at Liberty and Division streets in downtown Ann Arbor. To accommodate its growth, Google signed a short-term lease in 2014 at the South State Commons II building on Oakbrook Drive. All employees in Ann Arbor will be under one roof with the new expansion. About 80 employees will join their Google colleagues within the next couple of weeks.

“One of the big differences for us is that we’ve gone from being in an urban center to being in a campus, so we now have multiple structures,” said Charles Scrase, Google Ann Arbor co-site lead and director of Google Technical Services. “We’ve got a lot of exposure to the outdoors. We’ve got wetlands right out the door. We’ve got a lot of outdoor space. Those are big shifts from what we had when we were in the downtown location. It actually feels a lot like what we see in Silicon Valley with our campuses out there.”

Google has more than 400 employees in Ann Arbor for its AdWords unit, the company’s main advertising vehicle and source of revenue. In all, there are 600 employees in Michigan. The company also has an office in Birmingham.

The company is leasing the new space from Ann Arbor real estate corporation First Martin. Google received no tax incentives for the expansion, officials said.

Among the perks Google employees receive are free lunches in the cafeteria as well as coffee and snacks in the micro kitchens, coffee bar and lounge. For example,the Rock & Rye Lounge has a refrigerated display with offerings that include cherry-walnut mascarpone dip with crackers, and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with lemon sauce.

Employees also have access to a laundry room and game room. They can even receive a massage in-house from Google’s masseuse at a discounted rate.

“Once you’re here, you think about work,” said Eric Yuhasz, facility manager for Google Michigan. “You’re focused on what you need to do. You’re not running out to grab lunch, breakfast. Not worrying about going to the laundromat. All of that is right here and you’re able to focus on your job and what’s important during the day. When you leave, you spend that time with your family, friends and loved ones.”

Employees can bring their dogs to work, as long as neighboring workers don’t mind.

“Employees here work hard,” Godwin said. “If the dog’s well-behaved, why not? If it brings people joy and relaxation, that’s a good thing.”

Alex Rainone, who does tech support for Google, said she considers the building’s amenities amazing.

“Even just the puppies being around makes the work day so much less stressful,” she said. “It’s been fun to see the office expand.”

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