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The Cupertino City Council has unanimously approved Apple’s plans for the 175-acre Apple Campus 2, at the center of which the circular 2.8-million square foot “iCon” building designed by Foster + Partners will rise.
Having already been endorsed by Cupertino’s Planning Commission, the former Hewlett Packard (HP) campus site is slated to start getting cleared by the end of the year and the project is on track to be finished by the end of 2016.
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The four story headquarters will house up to 12,000 employees with space for another 2,200 employees in other buildings east of Tantau, 34 percent of which Apple has vowed will either use public transportation or Apple’s buses for their commute.
The new campus will have 10,980 parking spaces, including 2,385 existing underground spaces and an above ground parking garage for 5,870 cars adjacent to I-280.
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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by djt

    Short the stock.
    When companies build monuments to themselves, that signals their end. They can’t imagine what’s next, so they build the perfect building for the way they were. Like creating an army to fight the last war. It indicates lack of imagination. And lack of imagination means falling behind.

  2. Posted by Futurist

    Worst building (perhaps) ever.
    Closed circle: fearful, mistrusting, keeps out riff-raff, only open to members of the cult.
    Circle cannot evolve/expand/change. Must always be like we were.
    Suburban mentality: almost 11,000 car parking.
    IF Apple was visionary, can you imagine what they could do by building a vertical headquarters in San Francisco?

  3. Posted by curmudgeon

    I completely agree with the comments above. (Yes, even with you, Futurist!) The plan view shows just how insane the concept it. It reads like a moat protecting Apple island.
    Totally time to sell the stock.

  4. Posted by Invented

    In a word, obnoxious.
    Apple is quickly becoming an average consumer electronics company/commodity and they squeezed this in bc there’s still remnants of the worshiping Apple frenzy. This is an insult to the thousands of adjacent residents & something this insular does not belong in a densely backed sub/urban area.

  5. Posted by AnotherArchitect

    Armchair architecture “experts” telling one of the most successful companies in recent memory how they are failing? I guess to be acceptable to the experts it should have been a campus of low rise concrete tilt-up suburban cubes surrounded by a sea of asphalt parking like every other headquarters down there? I love that the cars are hidden and landscaping is a large part of this proposal.
    Like Futurist, I have my AIA as well, but will suspend an opinion and wait and see the final results. I prefer this to the Disneyish faux historic Skywalker Ranch headquarters, or the Facebook Gehry proposal.

  6. Posted by anon

    Wow, I agree with futurist too! I assumed that he’d be complaining about not enough parking. I mean Apple is going to FORCE 34% of its employees to use transit. The horror!

  7. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Cupertino is a suburb for any meaningful definition of “suburb”, so it’s not at all surprising that a headquarters located there would reflect a “suburban mentality”.
    The parking complaint is valid, but at least some of it is in a garage and/or subsurface instead of almost entirely surface-based, which is the current case at the 1 Infinite Loop campus.
    Although it is possible to utilize public transit, Apple can’t singlehandedly change the available infrastructure in The city of Cupertino. There’s no commuter rail, and Apple just had to deal with that fact.
    The current building/campus at One Infinite Loop isn’t a circle, but they’re building a new campus precisely because the old one was resistant to expansion and change. And the company was paying a significant amount of rent to commercial landlords (maybe a lot of the negative comments above are sour grapes from people who had an ownership interest in commercial office property in Cupertino that will now have to find other tenants, who knows).
    As far as reflecting fear and mistrust, well that’s one way to see it. Apple has and has had a pretty serious ongoing problem with industrial espionage. So they need to have much more control over the grounds for physical security reasons than, let’s say, a social media company or a financial services company. Actually very few mature tech companies that I can think of in the Santa Clara valley have open campuses.
    I personally don’t like the look of this building and it wouldn’t be what I would prefer, but most of the comments above are off base. Moving Apple or even a majority of their employees to San Francisco was never in the cards.
    The one thing I agree with djt on is that it is the completely well-publicized conventional wisdom that companies that build innovative new buildings are on their way to a negative slope in the stock price. It’s at the point now where investor’s knees jerk when they see a new corporate building and that’s the ingrained response even if they can’t say where they picked that idea up. I guess that’s the hallmark of a successful meme.

  8. Posted by Futurist

    @ AnotherArchitect:
    You didn’t read my post very clearly. Read it again. Strange concept that you would rather “suspend” your opinion and wait for the what? final results?
    So that must mean, in your opinion, that architectural criticism should ONLY occur AFTER a project is built?
    And just to be clear: I am a licensed architect also, but I am NOT a member of the AIA. Don’t confuse the public into thinking that AIA membership is a requirement of being a licensed architect, because it is not. The AIA is strictly a volunteer, social/business connection for architects.

  9. Posted by Can't think of Cool Name

    Just because they’re building this campus doesn’t mean they can’t build or refurbish and move into other buildings elsewhere, including urban areas.
    In the US alone, they already have corporate facilities in both Austin and Orlando. I don’t think this is a zero-sum game, especially with them sitting on $150 Billion + in cash and equivalents…

  10. Posted by frog

    I lived just on the other side of Wolfe from this project for about 2 years, 9 years ago. There is no meaningful public transit in that area. And with blocks half a mile to a mile long, there’s really not much to walk to. It is flat, so people who live in Cupertino and Sunnyvale could potentially bike, but with temperatures nearing 100 degrees for most of the summer, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t want to do that. There’s no downtown within sane walking distance, except maybe the Ranch 99 complex called Cupertino Village. And many errands or a dinner after work in Mt. View take you tens of miles out of your way. Uber takes forever and taxis are few and far between.
    The area is not set up for public transit, and until it is, I can’t imagine Apple employees being happy about trying to make it work.

  11. Posted by BobN

    I like how the rendering shows the building spinning. I wonder what it’s top RPM is.

  12. Posted by jlasf

    iDon’t know.
    If I was snarky, I would say that it’s like a doughnut; puffed up with nothing in the center. Just like the company without Steve Jobs.

  13. Posted by djt

    I don’t know where the meme came from – I thought I made it up! I visited K.Hovnanian’s new HQ in New Jersey just six months after the housing market went into the tank. It was the most unbelievable building I have ever seen. There was a center indoor courtyard with a glass floor to bring light all the way to the bottom of parking garage four levels down. Most parking garages have exposed pipes and such in the ceiling; in this building, these were neatly covered with stainless steel chases. The wood inside the building was $$$. For a company that built middling houses, slapped out at a thousand miles per hour, it was way over the top.

  14. Posted by Alai

    I was amused to see that they had cut down the underground parking by half and replaced it with another parking structure. I guess that even when you’re spending billions of dollars, underground parking is just too expensive.

  15. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    So when God presses her thumb on that ring, does it unlock Silicon Valley or just Cupertino?

  16. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    This morning, I wrote:

    As far as reflecting fear and mistrust, well that’s one way to see it. Apple has and has had a pretty serious ongoing problem with industrial espionage. So they need to have much more control over the grounds for physical security reasons than, let’s say, a social media company or a financial services company.

    Not to toot my own horn too much, but…Bingo!
    From the L.A. Times early last month, Is Cupertino sacrificing its core to Apple?, Page 2:

    Although Apple needs the new campus for its ballooning workforce, its other official objective, according to planning documents, is to “Achieve the security and privacy required for the invention of new products by eliminating any public access through the site, and protecting the perimeters against trespassers.”

    The public can drive around the road that circles Apple’s current headquarters, two miles to the west at 1 Infinite Loop, putting them within a few feet of Apple’s offices, sacred geek territory.

    The new headquarters building will be set far off the road, just as HP’s old offices were. And Apple plans to increase the number of trees on the land 50%, making the offices even harder for prying eyes to spot.

    Emphasis mine. I didn’t read this piece until today, after my earlier comment.
    So yes, the new campus isn’t open to the world, isn’t a shining example of new urbanism or any other current orthodoxy in architecture or planning. Keeping out certain elements and allowing employees and associated personnel entry is a feature, not a bug.

  17. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Bummer about that secure campus. Most cities are realizing the folly of superblocks and are breaking them up into smaller blocks that allow better pedestrian circulation.
    ————————–
    And there’s this:
    …but with temperatures nearing 100 degrees for most of the summer, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t want to do that [bicycling].”
    Hardly. Silicon Valley has an excellent climate for cycling. And summer temperatures rarely get near 100F. The west side of the valley is the cooler side as well.
    Cupertino has really missed a good chance to make walking and cycling more viable. Even surburban towns benefit from better cycling and walking infrastructure.

  18. Posted by Futurist

    Well good for you Brahma.
    But I said it first in a much simpler way.

  19. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    djt wrote:I don’t know where the meme came from — I thought I made it up!
    Uh, this has been around for ages.
    IIRC, I read about this idea myself around the time that SGI was either building or planning on building a new corporate headquarters, and this was back in the nineties when they were the “it” hardware company and maybe when they were still called Silicon Graphics, Inc.
    Anyway, I can’t cite the original article where I read about it at length, although I’m sure it was in one of the more right-wing business organs like the WSJ or Forbes, and maybe it was on dead trees. I’m pretty sure it was in relation to the trajectory of the stock price.
    But to get at least close, consider The Curse Of The New HQ from 2009:

    There’s a long and inglorious history of companies building new homes for themselves, only to have their businesses collapse a few years later. Or in the case of some poor souls, a few months.

    This is why, last week, when we wrote about Yahoo’s planned move into a massive new headquarters, we implored Carol Bartz to do all she could to reverse course. You never know what the curse could do.

    …Tech companies have an embarrassing track record in this department…they thought the good times would be infinite, and the space for employees would have to be equally large.

    Of course well all know what happened to Carol Bartz, although Yahoo is still around.
    I’m sure there’s an earlier or more authoritative piece, but go look at the whole slideshow.

  20. Posted by 49yo hipster

    Silicon Graphics, that’s so 90’s man! Sun Micro too. They all go up, they all go down (Oracle rare exception). I wonder if this thing’ll become a giant white elephant in 10-20 years time.
    I like how the apartment buildings owner held off selling his land to them (the bldgs in the lower left corner in map.) If I were him I’d busy myself renovating those bldgs into hip and smart units; he can make bank on future apple employees, or better yet, corporate rentals so close to campus?

  21. Posted by all_apps

    I think it’s funny how none of you professed architects can get you head around the beautiful symmetry of the design of the headquarters and the ipod/iphone product basis. Makes it easier for me to understand the detached boomer demo.
    Peace! And Product!

  22. Posted by red delicious

    +1
    Especially funny that Futurist the champion of every bland earth toned box built in SF is so down on Apple given their groundbreaking industrial design and innovation.

  23. Posted by Can't think of Cool Name

    In regards to the comments and the LA Times article on the design being such to keep the secrets within and essentially walling off Apple from any outsider walking or biking in the area, take a very close look at the southeastern corner of the property.
    Along that corner, which is Tantau Avenue bounded on the south by 280 and the north by a truncated Pruneridge Avenue, you’ll notice a lot of square footage of free standing buildings lining both sides of Tantau, which are labeled “Phase 2 Office Research and Development.”
    That’s a lot of R&D that’s outside the “Circle Fortress.” And those buildings are just steps from people walking or biking Tantau. If Apple was as paranoid as everybody says it is, those R&D buildings would never exist and the HQ building would be another floor higher to account for those 2000+ (called out in this post) R&D employees.
    BTW, the northern 50% of the property bounded by Homestead to the north, Tantau to the east, Pruneridge to the south and Wolfe to the west is the bulk of the HP campus that will be torn down. When in operation, that HP campus was also walled off and unavailable to the public…

  24. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    You’re probably right CToCN, security isn’t really enhanced much by the ring of insulation. Apple knows where leaks really occur: from loose lipped employees or from the thousands of external contractors and vendors they work with. They use “need to know”, NDAs, and other legal instruments to keep a lid on their IP.
    It won’t be a random bicyclist rolling by who’s likely to steal a secret but rather an engineer or marketeer with inside connections who could spill the beans. Physical security does nothing to address that threat.
    Any outsider wanting to eavesdrop would do better to just hang out at the BJ’s bar.

  25. Posted by Zig

    “IF Apple was visionary, can you imagine what they could do by building a vertical headquarters in San Francisco?
    Or what about downtown San Jose? Now that would be really visionary along with housing to make the cult complete
    “Apple can’t singlehandedly change the available infrastructure in The city of Cupertino. There’s no commuter rail, and Apple just had to deal with that fact.”
    Vanderbilt built Grand Central Station didn’t he? Anything is possible if you have money and the will to make things happen. Maybe not single handedly but as a catalyst
    I am not saying they should but these tech companies are certainly making a bad situation much worse in this area

  26. Posted by anon

    ^Downtown SJ has very low height limits because of proximity to the airport. Apple couldn’t build anything tall there.

  27. Posted by d-b

    Close to 11,000 parking spaces. So much for Transit First!

  28. Posted by Truth

    “So much for Transit First” ??? I was unaware that was Cupertino public policy.

  29. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    49yo hipster wrote:

    Silicon Graphics, that’s so 90’s man! Sun Micro too. They all go up, they all go down (Oracle rare exception). I wonder if this thing’ll become a giant white elephant in 10-20 years time.

    Nah, they get either torn down or reused by the next growing company.
    You mentioned Sun Microsystems; their campus in Menlo Park got bought and moved into by Facebook a few years ago.
    And Facebook, which is building their own new corporate campus, is also being cautioned against running up against the so-called corporate campus curse that djt invokes above; Tech Giants: Beware the Campus Curse:

    …maybe Facebook should pause before letting star architects like Frank Gehry remake a hillside into a 420,000 ft.² warehouse housing more than 2,800 engineers. To believers in the “sky scraper” index–the unscientific theory that when a corporation starts investing in huge building projects, financial collapse must be imminent–all this construction might make you nervous about the future of the tech industry. As the Financial Times’ architecture critic, Edwin Heathcote asked, “is it that their hubris is beginning to show?”

    The skyscraper index is mirrored in Silicon Valley by the “campus curse.” Sun Microsystems Inc. and many others profitable tech companies saw their winning streaks diminish after building lavish corporate village HQs.

    …the curse is now being felt by Apple, whose project in Cupertino, Calif., which resembles nothing so much as a giant glass doughnut, is $2 billion over budget and behind schedule. Some estimate that Apple’s project will eclipse the $3.9 billion being spent on the new World Trade Center complex in New York and the office space will cost…“three times the cost of many top-of-the-line downtown corporate towers.” Company stock fell about 30 percent last year.

    Go read the whole thing; they go on to clarify that Apple can cover the cost overruns with the project from cash.

  30. Posted by Joel S.

    If Apple were to significantly increase or decrease the number of employees in Cupertino, how would they accomodate them? In a traditional office building, they could lease or sublease an additional floor or building; how would they change their needed square footage requrements with this building?
    Back in Connecticut, the Union Carbide Building in Danbury suffers from a similar problem. remotely located, and not easily configured to support multiple tenants, it eventually sold in 2006 at a substantial discount.
    As dull as a development of multiple three-story buildings may be, they are often designed to accomodate the changing square footage needs of tenants.

  31. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Apple’s going to own this building, they aren’t going to be tenants. That doesn’t mean they can’t still lease space in other surrounding buildings once this one is complete, however.
    Right now, at the campus off of North DeAnza Blvd, the entire original building(s) are in fact full, and the company does lease several surrounding “dull” conventional multi-story buildings from commercial landlords. So I imagine that if Apple needs to significantly increase the number of employees, they can do that at this location as well.
    If they need to decrease the number of employees in Cupertino, they can always move people from other buildings that they are leasing now, or the original campus (which I understand they are keeping), to this building and let those leases expire or sell the original campus.

  32. Posted by Joel S.

    Thanks, Brahma, I hadn’t realized that Apple had such a significant presence outside of their headquarters building.

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