The opening of the first of Google’s offices in the old Boland’s Mills is a milestone for the tech company. Google bought the buildings, then known as Boland’s Quay, in 2018 in a deal worth about €300 million and one that expanded its footprint in the Barrow Street area.
The plan was to occupy the office space and rent out the retail units to Irish businesses, with plans for a food hall that would be open to the public on the bottom floor of the Flour Mill building.
That would sit alongside the community spaces, public squares and apartments, which the tech giant said would be handed over to a not-for-profit housing body to manage.
Despite the tech downturn, which saw Google shed more than 240 jobs in Dublin, and the post-Covid shift to hybrid working, Google is still planning to use the space at its disposal.
The company said the Flour Mill would become the engineering hub for its Dublin office, with 1,000 staff moving into the new offices in the coming weeks.
It is a long way from Google’s early roots in Ireland, when it started with five employees in 2003. Today, it is Google’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters, employing more than 9,000 people and dominating Barrow Street and beyond. Staff have returned to the office at least three days a week in Dublin.
As it is a listed building, Google was constrained in what it could change inside the mill. The once-derelict building has been restored and modernised to serve as a collaborative space for Google staff, but with a nod to its history.
The entrance to the building still features the old flour milling machinery, and the large control panel that controlled it.
A large spiral staircase on another floor was designed to look like the flour chute that once dominated the factory floor.
On another floor, the old adverts for Boland’s biscuits decorate the walls and the meeting rooms are named after biscuits; you can book the Rich Tea meeting space, or the Kimberly room.
The mill’s influence on arts and culture is also celebrated, with artwork dedicated to music acts that performed there, including David Bowie, U2 – who used it as a rehearsal spae – and Bob Dylan.
The building’s role in Irish history is also highlighted, with the Outpost micro kitchen on the top floor, in tribute to Boland’s Mills role in the 1916 Easter Rising.