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Google commits to building BIG and Heatherwick's £600m HQ at King's Cross

Internet giant Google has committed to building a massive new headquarters building at King’s Cross.

The company, which employs around 4,000 people in the UK, told the BBC that it was looking to more than double the office space it currently occupies on developer Argent’s flagship regeneration site.

Google said it planned to invest more than £1bn in the new King’s Cross building, designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studios, and hire thousands more staff.

The huge office scheme was effectively put on hold in November 2013 after Google called for AHMM’s consented scheme to be redesigned.

Heatherwick Studios and BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) were subsequently brought in – but the new designs have yet to be released.

Both BIG and Heatherwick Studio are already working on Google’s HQ in Mountain View, California.

Speaking to the BBC, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said: “We see big opportunities here. This is a big commitment from us – we have some of the best talent in the world in the UK and to be able to build great products from here sets us up well for the long term.

“So we did [make the investment decision] taking into consideration [the referendum], but we are very optimistic.”

He added: “We are committed to the UK and excited to continue our investment in our new King’s Cross campus.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan was quick to welcome the news, saying: “This is a vote of confidence in our great city – creating high-skilled jobs, supporting growth and demonstrating that London is open to business, new investment and talent from around the globe.

“London is one the world’s leading technology hubs and investment into the capital [post-referendum] remains robust, so Google’s expansion will further strengthen our city’s reputation as a global leader in digital technology.”

The move comes just weeks after AXA and a consortium of overseas developers pledged to press ahead with Axa Investment Managers’ 22 Bishopsgate scheme.

It is understood Google approached a number of contractors during the summer to build the HQ just north of King’s Cross station. 

Some of the UK’s top contractors are believed to have been contacted by Argent, in a move that goes beyond the developer’s 20-year relationship with the three firms on its framework: Bam Construct, Carillion and Kier.

Mace and Sir Robert McAlpine are understood to be among those interested in the scheme.

Bam Construct was originally appointed as main contractor on the original scheme in March 2013, in a deal worth £300m.

Plans for the new London HQ have an estimated construction value of more than £600m: £400m for the shell and core, and around £200m for the fit-out.

Google’s staff are currently spread across offices in Covent Garden and Victoria, with the new offices bringing them together under one roof.

The tech giant already has a presence at the King’s Cross redevelopment site, having taken 6 Pancras Square (pictured).

It is also developing an office block known as S2 on the site, which was given the green light by Camden Council in March. The 280,000 sq ft building is 10 storeys high and was designed by Mossessian Architecture.

The 27 ha King’s Cross site is one of the largest redevelopments in London, with the masterplan including 50 buildings and 1,900 homes.

It is being developed by the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, which includes Argent, DHL and London & Continental Railways and was formed in 2008.

A spokesperson for Argent said: “The office community at King’s Cross is going from strength to strength; rents have appreciated 100 per cent in the last five years.”

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