Google Bets Pretty Murals Will Make Data Centers Less Ominous

Definitely a good idea if you've got the paint budget.

Google has teamed up with four artists to beautify its bland, monochromatic data centers around the world. These are fascinating, important places that look — on first and second glance — like giant boxes. Now, the centers in St. Ghislain, Belgium, and Pryor, Oklahoma look lovely thanks to the efforts of artists Oli-B and Jenny Odell. Fuchsia Macaree and Gary Kelley are set to make similar facilities in Dublin and Iowa shine.

Oli-B and Odell, naturally, took different approaches to their murals, but the overall idea was to create something that made the gargantuan, mysterious buildings more likable and approachable — for both local residents and data center workers. In addition, the murals are meant to be representative of what it is that Google, with its data centers, enables.

Oli-B went for an obvious metaphor: clouds. These clouds, however, are bright and variegated, and within each cloud there are references to what goes on inside the buildings. Odell, who’s no stranger to making art of the internet, cut out pools, circular farms, salt ponds, and wastewaters treatment facilities from Google Maps imagery, then assembled all four categories into four enormous circles. She’s included scenery in each.

Google is justifiably proud of the whole project and it should be. The internet was always supposed to make the world more colorful.