WEST LOOP — It's a bird ... it's a plane ... it's a ... train?!
Neighbors walking near Google's Chicago headquarters in Fulton Market have noticed something resembling a CTA train car atop the building this month.
And if that's what it looks like, it's because that's exactly what it is — an old CTA train car. The decommissioned train car was installed on the roof of the 1K Fulton Building this spring, a project that is expected to be completed by the end of May, a Google spokeswoman said.
The train car was hoisted on the roof on March 18 using a crane, a Google spokeswoman said.
Google acquired the train car at auction, officials said. It likely traveled on the Blue Line in its former life, as the "Jefferson Park Station" sign is still visible on the car's roller display board.
An old train car is hoisted on top of Google Chicago's headquarters in Fulton Market on March 18. [Moshe Tamssot, True West Loop]
When complete, the train car will serve as a focal point and casual place to sit on the green rooftop for employees and others. The deck will also have raised a platform with views of the Chicago skyline, a green lawn and landscaped areas.
"The roof deck will be a casual environment for Googlers to recharge and collaborate during the day to maintain a healthy, happy and productive lifestyle," a Google spokeswoman said. "While it’s too early to know all the details for the space, Google frequently hosts events at Google Chicago with local community groups and nonprofit organizations."
With the help of a drone, photographer Joey Helms captured a current view of Google Chicago's rooftop, including the new "L" car. Check out the video below (the Google rooftop is featured at the 3:00 mark).
The CTA has sold retired cars to museums and private buyers across the country since at least the 1960s, said Jeff Tolman, a spokesman for the transit authority. Past buyers have included the Illinois Railway Museum, the Fox River Trolley Museum and real estate developer Property Markets Group.
The CTA also has sold some decommissioned rail cars to the military for training purposes and television shows, including "Chicago Med," and movies like "Transformers," Tolman said.
Officials at Sterling Bay, the developer who built 1K Fulton, did not answer questions about the changing rooftop this week.
Home to 650 employees, Google Chicago's West Loop offices opened in the former Fulton Market Cold Storage building in December 2015. Google Chicago previously operated out of offices in River North for more than a decade.
Google's Fulton Market office is aiming for three green building certifications: LEED certification; Living Building Challenge certification, which has stringent requirements including that materials are void of chemicals of concern; and WELL certification, which is focused on health and well-being.
The new rooftop feature at Google comes after some historic water towers have been removed on other Fulton Market buildings, including one at 1330 W. Fulton St., making way for the development of Fulton West.