In part 1, we explore Google’s plan to reinvent the office park

I used to drive my mom to work, sometimes, to her job at the General Motors Technical Center. To get inside, I had to drive through a dense cordon of trees, then a guard booth, and then an enormous parking lot glittering with cars. Inside, the place looked like your average office complex — just low-slung boxy modernist buildings and flat green lawns. But it was so large that ordinary laws of space-time didn’t seem to apply. If you got lost, you were lost for a long time. When it formally opened, in 1956, LIFE magazine had called the Tech Center “The Versailles of Industry.” To me, it felt like the Area 51 of mom workplaces.

All the offices and factories along the way to my mom’s office were smaller versions of the same thing — set…

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