Google's New $1bn London HQ at Kings Cross/St Pancras Shows the Potential if LA Revamps Union Station
Looks like Google UK workers will have even better mobility options than those at Google’s US headquarters and other California offices — at least until California builds its own high-speed rail system. The Verge reports that Google is investing £650 million ($1.04 billion) in a new UK headquarters adjacent to London’s Kings Cross/St Pancras International station, home not only to London Underground (subway) and commuter rail, but also Eurostar high-speed trains to Paris.
A few years ago, Kings Cross/St Pancras was renovated from a “national disgrace” (as one paper put it) into a beautiful new destination and hub (pictured) that has been transforming the neighborhood as well. The changes not only made it a beautiful shopping destination, but added Eurostar trains (the high speed trains to Paris and the European continent), which were moved from a different station. The resulting efforts to redevelop the neighborhood have definitely paid off, as Google’s announcement shows. (It’s hardly a surprise — look at Tokyo Station (home of local and high speed rail), with its Four Seasons Hotel and multiple shopping malls, as another example of how great things could be with a revamped Union Station in LA, too.
Imagine the future of downtown Los Angeles with the renovation of Union Station and the addition of high speed rail and fully built-out subway and light rail connections, and far more frequent commuter rail service. One day, that part of Downtown LA could see activity like these areas of London and Tokyo (while preserving the heritage of Olvera St. and Chinatown) — not just a place for homeless encampments, a jail, industrial and storage lots, and other missed opportunities to take advantage of Union Station’s growing status as a major hub.
Above: Tokyo Station, with Four Seasons Hotel