Firm: Parabola Architecture

Award: Leading Edge


Steeped in nature and punctuated by moments of sublimity in the everyday, 1212 Bordeaux is a building that works for people. The project is Google’s first completed ground-up new construction: a living lab that translates Google’s aspirational standards for workplace and environmental design into embodied architectural form.


1212 Bordeaux was delivered on-time and on-budget by Parabola and Devcon, using a uniquely collaborative integrated design-build process. This approach built a high level of trust, facilitating a resonant flow of expertise between the traditional silos of design and construction.


The building has its own routine, driven by the movement of the sun and the seasons: occupants align with diurnal and circadian rhythms in nature through the building’s calibration to solar orientation and prevailing winds. To be an occupant of 1212 is to experience a sense of belonging amongst essential rhythms at all scales, from the quotidian to the universal.


Designed in direct response to the context of its site, 1212 is a manifestation of Parabola’s design adage that ‘forces evolve form’.  The building is oriented on the site in relation to the sun and wind. The garden courtyard is designed  to invite sun while blocking the discomfort of prevailing breezes from the San Francisco Bay.

Aided by the preservation of a mature olive grove on the Western edge of the site and the planting of native species, 1212 restores a deep connection to nature.


Parabola’s innovative design tunes the experiential qualities of light, air, acoustics, and spatial scale to design out distractions caused by glare, thermal discomfort, and noise.

Program elements are organized according to a spectrum from Focus to Buzz zones. These zones give Googlers choices of distinct working environments and fulfill Google’s design goal to provide an inspiring workplace that supports Googler performance.

Unlike most open-plan office spaces, Focus and Buzz zones are fully separated by a Buffer zone formed by core and support program elements. The Buffer allows 1212 to avoid a common pitfall of open office spaces—in which the experience of social engagement, individual and group work, and meeting spaces are intermixed, preventing any of these spaces from functioning as intended.


The design-build process for 1212 Bordeaux integrated biophilic design principles from the project’s inception. Google’s commitment to connecting people to nature, formulated in their Biophilic Design Guidelines, informed the design approach:

“Google’s goal is to create a vibrant and healthy society that enriches all life. We view humans as an integral part of nature, and our designs should reflect this view. By designing for strong human connections with nature in our spaces and communities, we can create experiences that positively affect our minds, bodies and behavior. These experiences should bring Google’s environments to life, strengthen emotional connections to places, and encourage stewardship of our built and natural surroundings.”



AIA California
AIA California
Celebrating over 75 years of service, the AIA California actively promotes the value of design and advocates for the architectural profession. AIA CA is an association of 11,000 dedicated and passionate members who share a commitment to design excellence and livability in California’s natural and built environments.

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