Portland’s Google barge to be scrapped

Google barges were supposed to become floating showrooms for urban hipsters who would shop by invitation only on the lower floors and party on the roof.

Or so reports this tech blogger (warning: he has a foul mouth), who supplies Google’s detailed diagrams and plans.

The plans include an artist’s rendering showing that the barges were supposed to be complemented by a Christo-like pier draping to enhance the barge’s aesthetics. 

“The artistic structure combines innovative architecture with a bit of nautical whimsy,” writes the design firm, By And Large LLC, “creating a surprising environment that inspires conversation, community and “aha” moments.”

Google’s plan outlines who would work on the barge. An full-time Operations Manager, a Barge Master and other “US Coast Guard fully qualified mariners,” including a master or mate, “two able-bodied seamen” and one “ordinary seaman,” and approximately 50 deck hands and “guest-facing staff,” a.k.a. sales people.

Google estimated the barges would draw 1,000 people a day.

Meanwhile, Portland’s paper reports its Google barge is to be scrapped. It’s not clear the scuttling includes the Stockton barge. Citing a source inside Google, a local leader recently identified the barge as a computer-packed “server farm.” His information does not comport with this new information.

So, has Stockton’s Google barge been repurposed? Or was the source mistaken about the server farm? Did Google’s leaders have an “aha” moment that their barge idea wasn’t going to fly? If so, they just spent a whole lot of money getting to the “aha.”

Typically, Google isn’t commenting. Why that company even employs a spokesperson is a mystery. Google should just get a little robot that repeats “No comment” all day.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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