Google ‘barge’ in San Francisco to host showrooms and party deck – report

1 Nov 2013

Image via KPIX 5 News video in San Francisco

We may finally have an idea of what is going on with the enormous Google floating vessel in San Francisco Bay in the US. Google could be planning to use this barge, and other barges, as showrooms and party decks to entertain high-end clients and tech geeks with its Google Glass technology and the like.

The barge has been floating around the bay near Treasure Island. That was after KPIX 5 News in San Francisco first reported on 25 October on the barge, which features four stacks of shipping containers – in all the massive floating timber body that is 76 metres (250 feet) long and 21 metres (70 feet) wide.

Even the Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee was seemingly clueless about what Google was doing with this barge, telling KPIX 5 that Google had kept it a “secret” from him, with the Treasure Island Development Authority also seemingly in the dark about whether Google had been given planning authority for the barge.

Then, on 30 October, the U.S. Coast Guard finally divulged some details, telling KPIX 5 it had tracked down three barges – two comprising container structures.

Floating barges

One of the floating barges, dubbed BAL 001, floating around Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Image via KPIX 5

Two barges are said to be around Treasure Island, while there appears to be another one in Portland, Maine.

In the latest twist to the story, KPIX 5 said it had received information from “multiple sources” about how the barge in San Francisco Bay will host high-end showrooms to enable Google to show off its high-end technology to invitation-only clients. It also pointed to a party deck that would be thrown into the mix.

According to the report, this barge project has been in the pipeline for more than a year now, having been cooked up at the secretive Google X facility that is located near Google’s Mountain View, California, corporate headquarters.

The consensus out there in the techsphere is that Google could be creating these floating vessels, which reportedly can be disassembled easily and then transported around the globe by the likes of rail or sail, to court clients, and perhaps even to upstage Apple and its Apple Store concept.

Google, however, is being held up with the ‘floating vessel’ project until it gets planning approval from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic