Google Brings Communities Together with Grow with Google Center in NYC

The new Grow with Google Center in NYC opens its arms to the community in an effort to provide technology courses for people in search of career advancements. 

A custom Split Flap display from Oat Foundry playfully interweaves natural, analog design with its modern subject matter.

Google’s new Grow with Google Center in Chelsea is a free community venue that recently opened and provides the public with technology courses to help advance their careers.

Tapped to bring the venue to life, experiential design agency Jack Morton Worldwide worked with Google to build an approachable space that playfully interweaves natural, analog design with its modern subject matter.

Every detail of the communal area achieves a level of functionality in its most simplistic form: a retro-inspired Oat Foundry split-flap display greets guests at the front desk; oak-hued murphy tables fold up into the wall with a simple latch; a painted mural decorates wall-mounted doors to create a ‘photo-ready’ moment; and green plants adorn every table and shelf.

The clacking flaps of the display create a non-digital “surprise and delight” moment that differs wildly from the experience created by a standard LED display.

When was the project completed? Was this a new or renovated space?

2019 and a new space

Beyond the lobby, every detail of the communal area is designed to achieve a level of functionality in its most simplistic form.

What are the project’s location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities?

The project is located in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood

Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?

The Grow with Google NYC Learning Center g.co/grownyc was designed as a community space for Google’s neighbors in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, as well as the city overall. This meant our design is authentic to New York and almost everything was locally sourced. In particular, the brick has a great story. It comes from a local company, Brick It, that reclaims brick from the NYC area and prepares it for reuse. Therefore, all of the brick in the space is original to NYC.

The Grow with Google Center is located on the ground floor of Google’s office on 8th Avenue between 15th and 16th streets in Chelsea.

What products or service solutions are making the biggest impact in your space?

The Grow with Google NYC Learning Center is a space for New Yorkers to learn the digital skills needed to succeed in today’s increasingly technology-based economy. It made sense for local makers to contribute to the aesthetic. Many of the items, from the tables on the first floor to the plants at the reception desk, were sourced directly from local businesses, artists and craftspeople. Even the throw pillows and many personal business success stories adorn the walls.

The center’s three classrooms evoke an elementary feel with simple, light wood tables and bright red, yellow, or blue chairs, adorned only with notebooks, Chromebooks, and pencil holders.

The entire physical space was designed to be relatable and comfortable. Natural elements, colors, and a nostalgic design were implemented so that visitors feel they are in a familiar space and ready to be inspired. One special feature is the custom Split Flap Display from Oat Foundry, reminiscent of train station departure and arrival boards. The Split Flap Display adds an analog design-feel to the center as it displays information and animation to visitors as they enter. It brings a smile to almost everyone’s face.

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

The Split Flap’s analog white flaps, decorated in Google’s primary colors – yellow, red, blue, and green – move in an entrancing configuration to form a class schedule, event updates, graphics of New York icons, and iterations of the Google logo.

The street-facing windows allow for a level of transparency that evokes curiosity in those who pass by.

What is the most unique feature of the new space?

The first unique experience takes place at the front desk, where visitors are met by the custom Split Flap Display, inspired by the classic train station flickerboards of the 20th century. The display creates a non-digital “surprise and delight” moment that differs wildly from the experience created by a standard LED display. As the flaps change, the clacking sound echoes through the cavernous space, and a new image or message appears. According to Jack Morton Designer and Project Manager, Doss Freel, the split-flap is also a fun way to convey information.

As the flaps of the display change, the clacking sound echoes through the cavernous space, and a new image or message appears.

What kinds of technology products were used?

Beyond the lobby and the analog display of Oat Foundry’s Split Flat, every detail of the communal area is designed to achieve a level of functionality in its most simplistic form: oak-hued murphy tables fold up into the wall with a simple latch; a painted mural decorates wall-mounted doors to create an unmistakable ‘photo-ready’ moment, and green plants adorn every table and shelf. Technology, in its purest form, gives us more opportunities to achieve our goals. This space proves that tech helps it to achieve peak function while being comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.


Photos courtesy of Oat Foundry

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