Google tasks Thomas Heatherwick with designing delayed £1bn UK HQ, reports suggest

Google has chosen British designer Thomas Heatherwick to draw up plans for its new £1 billion UK headquarters in London, according to reports.

Award-winning Heatherwick is already designing Google’s international headquarters in California but Business Insider today reported that’s he’s also been commissioned to work on the King’s Cross office, which has been delayed after a series of setbacks.

Google and Heatherwick Studio declined to comment.

The internet giant first announced its plan to build a UK headquarters in King’s Cross in January 2013, proclaiming that it would be ready by 2016.

It initially commissioned London-based architects AHMM to design the offices but these were rejected for not being ambitious enough, despite featuring a rock climbing wall, a rooftop swimming pool and a running track. The designs can be seen here.

Since rejecting AHMM’s proposals, Google has been quiet on the project but it has maintained that it’s committed to building its UK headquarters at King’s Cross.

European director of Google for Work (previously Google Enterprise), Thomas Davies, told Techworld that “the clock is ticking”.

"Given the heritage that we’ve had in the UK and Ireland, Larry actually wants to make a statement, that says, ‘You know what, this is a very special place for us and a very special building for Googlers,'" he said. “What I can say is all of the best experiences that we’ve learnt in Mountain View and Zurich about innovation - we’re having the best of that in London."

Some have suggested the delay could be related to uncertainties in European politics and ongoing legal battles. Indeed, Google is fighting a number of cases in Europe that could have a major impact on its business across the continent. However, a Google spokeswoman dismissed the claims as "ridiculous".

Google has taken a lease on a recently-built property at 6 Pancras Square [opposite the plot for its new office] while it waits for the new HQ to be built.

In addition to the HQ plot and the leased office block, Google also opened a Google Glass store in King's Cross. However, this was shut down in November last year, shortly before Google announced that it was going to stop selling the augmented reality headset.

Meanwhile Google DeepMind, an artificial intelligence unit within Google that employs 140 people, is also run out of King’s Cross.

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