Google's mystery barge is still under wraps, but new documents obtained Friday show that its builders are hoping to create "a curious and visually stunning" structure that will serve as both a floating studio and temporary exhibition space at waterfront sites around San Francisco Bay.
The barge will have a dozen massive sails, "reminiscent of fish fins, which will remind visitors that they are on a seaworthy vessel," according to a proposal, obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, that was submitted to the San Francisco Port Authority by the shell company that owns the barge.
The four-story structure, built from recycled shipping containers, will have more than 13,000 square feet of exhibition space, a large open atrium and catwalks that "will afford views down through the atrium, while a roof-deck will offer new sightlines of the spectacular San Francisco skyline and waterfront," the proposal enthused.
Google finally broke its silence about the barge earlier this week, in a brief statement which said only that the giant Internet company hopes to use the massive floating structure "as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology." The company did not specifically dispute earlier speculation that it might be planning to use the vessels as a floating showroom for its wearable computing device, Glass, and other cutting-edge products from its secretive Google X division.
But a few more details emerged from the Port Authority documents, which were submitted to the agency in September by a shell company, By and Large LLC, that serves as the registered owner of the barge now moored at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. By and Large is also the listed owner of a second, similar barge that's been spotted on the East Coast.
While local and regional planning officials say they haven't issued any permits for the project, the proposal says the backers hope to attract hundreds of visitors a day when the vessel is moored at different sites around the bay, including Fort Mason Center, Angel Island, Richmond and Redwood City.
In their proposal, the project backers say the barge would stay in each location for a few weeks and eventually move on to San Diego.
Despite the eye-catching sails, it's most likely the barge will have to be towed to each location, since the floating platform itself isn't designed to be a sailing vessel.
Still, the backers describe it as "an unprecedented artistic structure that will attract new and repeat visitors to the San Francisco waterfront, raising awareness of the Bay's compelling history, offerings and public goods."
San Francisco port spokeswoman Renee Dunn Martin said the documents were submitted as a "preliminary proposal" but added that project backers haven't returned with any more specifics. A spokesman for the National Park Service, which operates Fort Mason, previously confirmed that Google representatives had approached his agency but also held only preliminary talks.
At the Port of Redwood City, executive director Michael Giari said he hasn't been contacted by anyone involved in the project. He said the port, which has a conference center and other public facilities, could potentially accommodate the massive barge, which is 250 feet long.
Giari said he would need to know more before committing to the project, but he noted, "We're the closest port to Google's headquarters" in Mountain View, Calif. And he added, "People forget that a good way to get things around the bay is to put them on a ship or a barge and float them around."
(c) 2013 McClatchy News Service