KITCHENER - The construction of new offices for Google on the edge of downtown Kitchener is a major turning point in the city core's transition to a centre for the digital economy, say observers in the architecture and real estate fields.The building at King Street West and Breithaupt Street is quickly taking shape. By this time next year, the sculpted, blue-glass exterior will dominate the western entrance to the core. The primary colours of the Internet juggernaut's iconic logo will hang above a roof-top deck for Googlers.Google currently employs about 300 people in 60,000 square feet of space on the third floor of the Tannery building at Charles and Victoria streets.Earlier this year, it signed a 10-year lease, with an option for another 10 years, for 185,000 square feet of space in the Breithaupt Block development to accommodate its growing local workforce. The space includes the building under construction at King and Breithaupt, and the top floor of the restored factory buildings that run along Breithaupt."Because of the alignment and change in the level of the street, the building will have a profile and presence in the downtown," said Rick Haldenby, a University of Waterloo architecture professor."The older parts of the building are brilliant and beautiful inside," Haldenby said of the restored industrial building that began as a rubber factory in "Busy Berlin" and closed in 2008 as an auto parts manufacturer."The sense of century-old industrial buildings is being maintained," he said. "I think the addition of the faceted-glass box is an appropriate statement about the new presence and the new economy in the Kitchener core.""The whole project speaks of continuity and change," Haldenby said of the new building. "I am excited by it."The new Google building is just across the railway tracks from the multi-modal transit station slated for the corner of Victoria and King streets. Passengers will board and disembark from light-rail transit, buses, GO trains and Via trains at the station.When the Grand Trunk Railroad came to Berlin in 1856, brick factories and warehouses went up along the streets near the tracks. About the same time, a Bavarian immigrant named Reinhold Lang started the Lang Tanning Co. The former tannery building is now a home to Communitech, startups, and digital media and Internet companies, including Google.Google arrived in Waterloo Region in 2005 when it bought Reqwireless, a mobile software startup that employed 30 people. It steadily increased the size of its local workforce and moved from offices in the David Johnston Research and Technology Park in Waterloo to the Tannery building in 2010."We're excited to continue growing our team in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region," Google spokesperson Leslie Church said in an email. "Our engineering team here is a major contributor to Google's product innovation, and a big part of that is a testament to the talent in this community."Waterloo Region "is a thriving tech community built around great universities and dynamic startups with the power to attract great people from around the world, and we are thrilled to be part of it," Church said.Perimeter Development Corp. bought the old factories along Breithaupt Street in 2009, and in 2010 took on Allied Properties Real Estate Investment Trust as a partner, selling a 50-per-cent stake in the project to the Toronto-based company. Google is the main tenant in the development, which includes about 175,000 square feet of space in restored factory buildings.Graig Beattie, a partner in Kitchener-based Perimeter, said the company is excited to see the new building take shape. "It has been fun over the last six to eight weeks to see the steel going up," he said. "You can see the built form coming along, and it is only going to get better over the coming months as they start to see the glass-curtain wall on the building."Construction is scheduled to finish next fall. Then Google's design team will take over to complete the interior.A Google office is something to behold. The office in the Tannery building includes a tube slide, a room stocked with myriad electronic games, a lounge for watching hockey games, complete with a beer fridge, kitchenettes in every corner stocked with healthy snacks and drinks, a massage room, and a quiet room decorated with photo-quality wallpaper depicting a palm-tree shaded beach and azure waters. There is an outdoor deck and a professional kitchen where food is prepared for Googlers.Peter Benninger, of Coldwell Banker Peter Benninger Realty, who has acted as an agent in downtown property deals for decades, is impressed with what Google is building on King Street West. "I think it is extremely fitting," he said. "New architecture and glass with the old building. I think it is going to be really spectacular when it's done."