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Google will move ITA workers to Kendall Square

Search giant asserts place in tech-heavy Cambridge with ‘urban campus’

In Kendall Square, Google plans to enclose an atrium and build a glass-walled connector that is expected to include retail space.ELKUS MANFREDI RENDERING

Google Inc. will relocate subsidiary ITA Software of Cambridge to its Kendall Square offices, after finalizing a deal to create an “urban campus’’ with more than 800 employees, making it the search giant’s fourth-largest US location.

ITA’s 500 staffers, who now work half a mile away, will join more than 300 Google employees in a three-building Kendall Square complex connected by new glass passageways and built to accommodate further growth. Google bought ITA, a travel software company, in 2010 for $700 million.

“The space is very symbolic of us entering a new phase,’’ said Steve Vinter, head of the local Google office, who said the new campus marks the company’s arrival as a major presence in technology-heavy Cambridge. Google finalized a lease for the new space Saturday.


Google’s expansion met resistance when it first went before the Cambridge City Council in February, because some residents and councilors opposed plans to build one of the glass connectors over a public rooftop garden. Councilors approved the expansion proposal last month after Google’s landlord, Boston Properties Inc., made additional concessions for the loss of roughly half of the 43,000-square-foot public garden.

Boston Properties agreed to increase to 50,000 square feet the amount of replacement park space it will build to compensate for the loss of the rooftop garden, pledging $2 million for its construction, and promised to submit plans for new residential development in Kendall Square within a year of completing the Google expansion.

Google will join a surge in tech companies locating to or expanding in Kendall Square. Microsoft Corp. is moving employees to the neighborhood from its offices in Waltham in early fall; earlier this year, Framingham office products company Staples Inc. said it would open an e-commerce innovation center in Kendall this spring; and online retailer Inc. is moving into the neighborhood.


Construction of the Google campus is expected to begin later this year, and be completed by mid-2013. The company, which has 32,000 employees worldwide, would not say how much it is spending on the project. Of the company’s US operations, only its New York and San Francisco offices and its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., will be larger than the expanded Google Cambridge.

In Kendall Square, Google plans to enclose an atrium between 5 and 3 Cambridge Center, where it currently has offices, and build a glass-walled connector that is expected to include public and retail space. The company will build a second connector to 4 Cambridge Center, and lease new space in that building. The expansion will include room for new hires as the operation grows.

Google’s Cambridge staffers work on travel software, Internet search, the Google Currents digital news app, the social network Google Plus, and online video service YouTube.

The expansion shows that Google is interested in being a bigger player in the local community, said Joseph Tulimieri, executive director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority.

Google is looking to host more public classes and events once it has extra room, Vinter said, and its expansion may even draw additional visitors to that controversial rooftop garden. “The problem we’ve had with this space,’’ he said, “is that it’s hard to assemble more than 150 people.’’

The East Cambridge Planning Team, a community group that originally opposed the Google expansion, decided to back the plan once Boston Properties made changes to its proposal. Still, Charles Marquardt, a member of the planning team’s executive board, would rather have had more time for the public to weigh the original changes to the rooftop space.


But Vinter said, “Google moves at an incredible pace, and it can be jarring.’’

Michael B. Farrell can be reached at