Wired: ‘If you care about cities, Apple’s new campus sucks’

“Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.” —Louise Mozingo, author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. 

From Wired deputy editor Adam Rogers:

You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood…

If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”

More where that came from.

10 Comments

  1. Gianfranco Pedron said:

    Yes, things would have been sooooo much better if Apple had just remained a start up in somebody’s garage.

    Why bother building sandcastles when we all know they will eventually be turned back into sand? Why bother doing anything?

    @Adam Rogers – Why even bother crafting your article with such care and precision, only to throw it onto a crowded and saturated web of opinion pieces and critiques clogging the “information superhighway” that doesn’t really need one more honking horn vying for attention?

    2
    June 14, 2017
  2. Fred Stein said:

    Taking Rogers own words, “straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics.”
    Rogers thinking is last century. Apple, in Tim Cook’s own words, is addressing the transportation issue with 21st century technology*. In another recent interview, Tim talked about all the jobs they are creating in their ecosystem as in 16 M App developers to cite one example.
    *20th century transportation was mass transit which worked great in cities (and abysmally in suburbs); And personally owned and operated cars which gave individuals unprecedented freedom at a very high environmental cost.
    What would Rogers suggest? Continue the random sprawl, where a faction of Apple employees are in HQ and the rest are scattered? Not good for cohesiveness. Build a phallic tower in the middle of Cupertino? Build a phallic tower in San Francisco and force Apple employees to increase their commute by an hour? Sell off parts of the company destroying its core premise of seamless integrated solutions?

    3
    June 14, 2017
  3. Ken Cheng said:

    Urbanists like density, while corporate HQ’s like Apple’s tend to simulate suburban parkland. I think it’s fine, as urban areas, which are heat sinks, need parkland areas, to cool off, offer habitats for birds, etc. Can’t please everyone.

    2
    June 14, 2017
  4. Richard Wanderman said:

    When the Getty Center (in Los Angeles) was being built I was watching from afar and it sounded hideous. However, having been there over 50 times over many years, I can say with certainty that it’s a masterpiece and is a huge attraction, not just for people wanting to see art on display there, but for people wanting to experience Richard Meier’s architecture.

    It’s too soon to tell what Apple park will be like but I can say that the Getty Center is a masterpiece and I never could have imagined it beforehand.

    1
    June 14, 2017
  5. Darren Grayson said:

    PED, there are people everywhere who will hate everything Apple does, simply because it’s Apple. Why link to it?

    1
    June 14, 2017
    • What’s the point of filtering out the criticism? I thought Mozingo’s analysis was interesting on several levels.

      2
      June 15, 2017
  6. John Kirk said:

    The building hasn’t even opened yet and one of the author’s major gripes is that it’s going to be difficult to repurpose when Apple goes out of business.

    When you’re complaining about something as absurd as that, it’s because you’re working really, really hard to find something to complain about.

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    June 14, 2017
  7. Gianfranco Pedron said:

    Repurposing Apple park might be simpler than one thinks.

    The site is self sustaining so, whatever causes the demise of Apple, I’m quite sure thousands of survivors of that apocalyptic event will gladly pay a premium to find shelter within.

    Protected by hills, limited access, with pastures, orchards and high speed internet, the spot should be idyllic … unless, of course, it’s a dirty apocalypse with dust and stuff hanging in the air for centuries. Repurposing, under that eventuality, becomes a moot point anyway.

    Think different.

    0
    June 14, 2017

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