A mysterious construction project has been underway in San Francisco Bay of a barge of shipping containers known as “Google Barges.” While Google has released limited information, speculations are high.
Four other barges have cropped up in various ports throughout the country, two in Treasure Island, one at Rickers Wharf Marine Facility in Portland, Maine, and one planned near New London, Connecticut. Each marked with the letters “BAL” and four numbers (BAL0001, BAL0010, BAL0011, and BAL0100). The numbers are apparently binary code for “one,” “two,” “three,” and “four.” There is also a mysterious tenant associated with the project who goes by the tagline “By And Large.” No one knows who this “By And Large” corporation is, but according to the Portland Press Herald, “the name By and Large may be a reference to ‘Buy N Large,’ the fictional mega-corporation that has taken over the world economy in Pixar’s 2008 film ‘WALL-E.’”
But nobody knows what these barges will be used for. Some speculate that it will be a showroom for Google Glass, others think it will be a floating data center in the event of a natural disaster, but Google is maintaining a sense of mystery surrounding the whole project with limited bits of released information. However, in 2009 Google was granted a patent for a “water-based data center” which would include a wave-based electrical generator as well as cooling units naturally provided by the sea. All of this would be grouped onto floating platforms offshore. This highly secretive operation even has construction workers surrender their phones, cameras, and all audio visual equipment before entering the premises.
As the San Jose Mercury News notes, “the documents are noticeably vague about what kind of technology would be exhibited. In its statement earlier in the week, Google denied initial speculation that it was building a floating computer center. That statement didn’t address another theory that Google may use the vessel as a floating showroom for its wearable computing device, Glass, and other cutting-edge products from its secretive Google X division.”
The vessel itself seems to be headed in a unique architectural direction built entirely of shipping containers, each four containers high, with plans to adorn the structure with sales mimicking fish fins. However, this is no sailboat. Although the plan is for these barges to be mobile, they will likely be towed by other boats or deconstructed and rebuilt for each move. Though construction seems to have reached a painfully slow lull.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, “Google hopes to move the vessel around to various ports in San Francisco Bay, staying no more than a month in each location — at least in part, apparently, because of a state law that discourages putting new structures on the bay for an extended period of time, according to documents and emails submitted to the Port of San Francisco.”
The floating showroom is rumored to have high tech showrooms on the first three floors and the fourth floor cumulating in an elaborate party deck. The documents Google submitted for the project’s approval suggests that the barge will attract over 1,000 visitors each day.
As SFGate.com quotes: “We envisioned this space with community in mind,” By and Large says, “a surprising environment that is accessible to all and inspires conversation about how everything is connected — shorebirds, me, you, the sea, the fog and much more.”
What have you heard about the mysterious Google barges? What do you think they will be used for? Parties? Tech events? Storage? Speculate with us in the comments section below.
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