Architecture critic: Apple’s new mothership campus will be a retrograde cocoon

“In early June, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made what amounted to an extended architectural sales pitch when he appeared before the City Council in Cupertino to present the details of a planned new headquarters for the company he co-founded in 1976,” Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic, writes. “Jobs showed renderings of a sleek, glimmering building, ring-shaped and four stories high, set gently into a lush green landscape.”

“The members of the council found the pitch persuasive, to say the least. (‘The word ‘spectacular’ would be an understatement,’ one said,)” Hawthorne writes. “You can understand why the city, especially in this economy, would want to maintain the happiest of relationships with Apple, based in Cupertino on a parcel of land — known as the Infinite Loop campus — less than a mile west of the new headquarters. Still, had the members of the council been in an even slightly more inquisitive mood, there are a number of questions they might have asked Jobs about the forthcoming building, which will hold 12,000 Apple employees. The piece of architecture he was describing for them, after all, is practically bursting with contradictions.”

“Though the planned building has a futuristic gleam — Jobs told the council ‘it’s a little like a spaceship landed’ — in many ways it is a doggedly old-fashioned proposal, recalling the 1943 Pentagon building as well as much of the suburban corporate architecture of the 1960s and ’70s,” Hawthorne writes. “And though Apple has touted the new campus as green, its sprawling form and dependence on the car make a different argument.”

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Hawthorne writes, “The new Apple campus, which the company describes as “a serene and secure environment” for its employees, keeps itself aloof from the world around it to a degree that is unusual even in a part of California dominated by office parks. The proposed building is essentially one very long hallway connecting endlessly with itself.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: One Infinite Loop.


[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Cupertino Mayor Wong: Apple’s mothership campus ‘definitely not a done deal’ – September 9, 2011
Apple’s mothership campus: What’s the message? – August 22, 2011
City of Cupertino posts further details on Apple mothership campus – August 13, 2011
Apple’s new ‘Mothership’ campus: Full details and gallery – June 16, 2011
Steve Jobs wanted to build mothership campus nearly three decades ago – June 14, 2011
Cupertino mayor: ‘There is no chance we are saying no’ to Apple Mothership (with video) – June 9, 2011
Steve Jobs presents giant 12,000 employee ‘spaceship’ campus to Cupertino City Council (with video) – June 8, 2011


  1. I have frequently worked in three large circular buildings in the UK – BBC Television Centre, O2 arena ( formerly Millennium Dome ) and the Royal Albert Hall, together with any number of football stadia.

    I have never had a problem with orientation in any of them. You can get disorientated in any large building, irrespective of shape.

    So long as Apple do things differently, there will always be idiots claiming that it is wrong.

    1. No, he wants Apple to build a skyscraper in downtown L.A. and all the employees ride the bus to work. Because, don’t you know, that’s perfect in architecture.

      I’m still trying to figure out how mass transit fits into the design of a building.

  2. typical apple stuff:

    first the critics and rivals will bash it endlessly and say it won’t work (iPod, OSX, iPhone, iPad etc)

    then they will be awed by it’s monumental success

    then they will copy it slavishly (samsung) and say that Apple’s ideas were ‘obvious’.

    (as for the doughnut shape being ‘hard to get around’ etc: I think apple which is rigorous in checking designs for everything would have thought about it. Perhaps they WANT certain sections like research labs to be isolated? Also in the original HP mess of multiple buildings on site — to get from a building from the far side of the lot to another building on the other end takes just as long except it’s uglier with parking lots instead of green …

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