Looking back through a number of Steve Job’s presentations, I’m struck by his talk to Cupertino City Council fourth short months ago. This was his last public appearance, and he was pitching a real estate development project to local elected officials. He was clearly quite ill, and according to the New York Times was told in February his time was growing shorter. The dying CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world showed up to present site plans. And he did a great job. I’m not aware of another CEO who has made a similar presentation. Video link is below, and worth watching.
The proposed campus is an interesting and unique design, and I like it. Watching the video reminded me of two articles critical of the building and site design. John King, urban design critic for the San Fran Cisco Chronicle, was generally fair but did throw this dart,
"No space planner would fashion offices that require you to walk nearly half mile indoors to reach co-worker on the far side of the doughnut (will employees be issued Segways?)"
I wonder if any modern structure could accommodate 13,000 employees in 2.8 million square feet of office space without requiring employees to walk similar distances. Mr. King may view the extra space between tables or above our heads at an Apple retail store as wasted space. A Borg like cube would be more efficient I guess.
Christopher Hawthorne, the Los Angeles Times architecture critic, was even more critical.
"Though Apple has touted the new campus as green, its sprawling form and dependence on the car make a different argument."
Mr. Hawthorne goes on to link the proposed campus to "pastoral capitalism" and argues the corporate estate allows the company "to turn its back on cities and stake a claim on the suburban pastoral idyll — isolated, proprietary, verdant, and disengaged from civic space."
I love dense urban environments, but I understand the benefits of both urban and suburban locations for corporate headquarters and people’s homes. The new Apple campus seems as accessible to mass transit as the Infinite Loop campus, and I'm not convinced a company could create a car-independent campus in Cupertino, CA or any similar suburban location. Apple is reducing the previous concrete footprint, increasing green space, and creating a more sustainable facility all around.