Google doesn’t do anything on a small scale. While having a mayor cut a ribbon is great, Google opened their new 185,000 square foot office in Kitchener-Waterloo with a visit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau capped off a morning tour of the University of Waterloo and BlackBerry with student coding demos and a speech to celebrate Google’s contribution to the Canadian tech ecosystem. “Google has always worked hard to be not just a good corporate citizen, but an active player in Canada,” said Trudeau.
Canada was one of the first international operations for Google, with the opening of an office in Toronto in 2002. Google opened a small four-person office in Waterloo in 2005 and expanded into the Tannery Building in Kitchener. Today, Over 350 “Canooglers” – as Googlers in Canada are known – currently work on products including Gmail, Chrome, Google Ads, Google Fiber, and the OnHub router.
Google now occupies the Breithaupt Block building, stretching an entire city block along King Street – the main artery in Kitchener-Waterloo. Originally opened in the early 1900’s as a rubber manufacturing factory, the Google design team worked throughout the redevelopment to make the building as environmentally friendly as possible. Google has applied to have the building certified as LEED V4 Gold – which would be a first for a building in Canada. The office also features the perks and twists Google offices are known for; a 5,000 square ft gym, micro kitchens, and a climbing wall to name a few.
Mr. Trudeau’s visit began with a coding demo from students participating in Codemakers, a joint program between Google and Ottawa-based Actua that creates STEM programming for children.
Amidst the decline in the loonie and challenges in the energy sector, Trudeau brought focus to the impact the tech sector has on the economy. “Businesses like Google harness the incredible talent and capabilities of Canadians,” said Mr. Trudeau, “this government will continue to make significant investments to boost Canada’s innovative capacity, help dynamic firms grow, and create the jobs of tomorrow right here and right now.”
The Google Kitchener-Waterloo office is the second-largest engineering office outside of Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA. The choice is logical for Sam Sebastian, Managing Director of Google Canada. “Between the thriving schools and the startup economy, there are few places that Google would rather be today than right here.”
To commemorate his visit and the opening of the office, Prime Minister Trudeau was presented with his own framed caricature to hang on the office’s caricature wall. His caricature now hangs with the caricatures of Google Kitchener-Waterloo employees – a number that will continue to grow in the new space.
Images courtesy Alex Kinsella.