Photos of Google's mystery barges unveiled!

After weeks of speculation, we finally get to see what Google's mystery barges are going to look like and how they are going to be used.

Google's mystery barges
Credit: By and Large, LLC
Google's mystery barges unveiled!

After weeks of speculation, it looks like Google’s mystery barges are going to be home to what are being called “unprecedented artistic structures” that can move up and down either coast of the U.S.  

The structures, which will use about a dozen tall sails, are geared to drive visitors and business to the waterfronts where they’ll be docked. They’ll also be used as studios and temporary technology exhibit space, according to documents filed with the Port of San Francisco.

The company, By and Large LLC,  filed the documents for Google, which confirmed this week it is “using the barges as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology."

 

Artistic rendering of studio in San Francisco Bay
Credit: By and Large, LLC. Artistic rendering of studio in San Francisco Bay
An environment to inspire conversation

Dubbed the By and Large Studio, the structure is being built from recycled shipping containers to create a 13,726-square-foot exhibit space. 

The documents filed only refer to the barge docked in San Francisco, though they should apply to the similar barge By and Large, LLC has docked in Portland, Me., as well.

The vessels are aimed at raising awareness about the history and goods associated with the harbors they’ll be docked in. The space also can be used by local organizations to engage with customers and guests, according to the documents.

By and Large notes that it should be a “surprising environment” that inspires conversation.

Artist's rendering of Studio's exhibition and interior
Credit: By and Large, LLC. Artistic rendering of Studio's exhibition and interior
Floating exhibition space

According to By and Large, the floating exhibition space will be able to move to various harbors where it will be open to the public.

The company expects the barge now docked in San Francisco to be there for a year once work on it is complete and it’s up and running. Plans are for it to be docked for a month at a time at several different piers in San Francisco. 

There’s no information on where the barge currently docked in Portland will go once work on it has been completed. According to the Portland station for the U.S. Coast Guard, work will begin on the barge in Maine once work is done on the one in California.

Artistic rendering of the studio's interior space
Credit: By and Large, LLC. Artistic rendering of the studio's interior space
Catwalks, roof decks and city views

While the structures on the barges now aren’t much to look at, the plans for them show something much improved is coming.

According to By and Large’s documents, the four-story structures will hold a large, open atrium, exhibition space and support facilities. Upper-level catwalks will give visitors a look down into the atrium, while a roof deck will give people views of the harbor and neighboring city.

Image of barge with gangways and sails
Credit: By and Large, LLC. The barges will have fore gangway for access
Fish fin sails

The barge, which will be moved around harbors guided by tugboats, is designed to have fore and aft gangways for access. 

“The structure will stand out but at the same time will complement its surroundings with decorative sails that provide shade and shelter to guests,” the company said in the filed document. “The sails are reminiscent of fish fins which will remind visitors that they are on a seaworthy vessel.”

The sails can be lowered during bad weather.

Image of barges aft gangway
Credit: By and Large, LLC. The barges will have also have an aft gangway for access
Self-sustaining barges

Although By and Large noted that it hopes to connect to Internet services, as well as to power, water and waste disposal services from docking piers when possible, the barge is being built to sustain itself. 

Auxiliary systems will be held in shipping containers on the lower level of the back of the barge. The vessel, however, will need to be serviced by truck or service barges every 24 hours. 

Onboard security will include more than 50 cameras inside the vessel, as well as on the perimeters, along with identification badge readers, multiple alarm systems and panic buttons.

Image of barge docked in Portland, Maine
Credit: Sharon Gaudin/Computerworld. Barge docked at Ricker’s Wharf in Portland
A mystery no more

The barge docked at Ricker’s Wharf in Portland is very similar to the one docked in San Francisco. 

It also has been surrounded by the same amount of mystery since officials from the Maine Port Authority, the Coast Guard, city hall and the construction company hired to work on it have all either claimed to have no knowledge or to have signed non-disclosure agreements.

Because of the mystery, people have been quick to come up with their own ideas for what the barges will be used for. Speculation has ranged from a floating data center to platforms for space elevators, research vessels self-driving barges and even a holding area for pods that will grow new Google employees.