New Yorker architecture critic: Apple’s proposed Mothership campus is ‘scary’ and ‘troubling’

“With Apple’s characteristic secrecy, the company hasn’t officially released the design, or announced that the architect [for its proposed new campus] is Foster + Partners, the London-based firm known for its super-sleek, elegant, exquisitely detailed buildings,” Paul Goldberger writes for The New Yorker. But images of Apple’s future home, to be built on a campus that it has taken over from Hewlett-Packard, are all over the place, because plans must be presented to the local authorities in Cupertino, who understandably are falling all over themselves with delight.”

“Foster has proposed a gargantuan glass-and-metal ring, four stories high, with a hole in the middle a third of a mile wide. The building, which will house upwards of twelve thousand employees, will have a circumference of a mile, and will be so huge that you won’t really be able to perceive its shape, except from the air,” Goldberger writes. “Like everything Foster does, it will be sleek and impeccably detailed, but who wants to work in a gigantic donut? Steve Jobs, speaking to the Cupertino City Council, likened the building to a spaceship. But buildings aren’t spaceships, any more than they are iPhones.”

“So why is Foster’s design troubling, maybe even a bit scary? The genius of the iPhone, MacBook, iPad, and other Apple products is that they are tools that function well and happen to be breathtakingly beautiful. A building is also a tool, but of a very different sort. In architecture, scale—the size of various parts of a building in proportion to one another and to the size of human beings—counts for a lot. With this building, there seems to be very little sense of any connection to human size,” Goldberger writes. “Flexibility is a hallmark of the iPad, and it counts in architecture, too, but how much flexibility is there in a vast office governed entirely by geometry? For all of Foster’s sleekness, this Apple building seems more like a twenty-first-century version of the Pentagon.”

Rendering of Apple's "Mothership" campus proposed for Cupertino, CA
Rendering of Apple's "Mothership" campus proposed for Cupertino, CA

Goldberger writes, “It’s said that Steve Jobs considers this building to be a key part of his legacy, which would be unfortunate, because it would mean that his last contribution to his company might well be his least meaningful.”

More in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This much is sure: It’s one infinite loop.

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

Related articles:
Apple’s infinite loop: Mothership campus impressive but enigmatic – September 14, 2011
Architecture critic: Apple’s new mothership campus will be a retrograde cocoon – September 12, 2011
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. Well put Joe. His contribution is a criticism. It was an empty insult which leaves one wondering what his point is. Just sounds bitter with a desire to feel good about his opinion. I don’t know that many will see his viewpoint.

  1. With out knowing anything about the modes of travel within the building, all these comments on how useless it is are moot. There could be segways, people movers, some kinda tram system. We just don’t know. Also I’m betting the folks that need to work closely with each other will be placed close to each other.

    I notice the architectural critics never posit another idea of how to get this many people into the same building.

    1. The last I heard was that Steve Jobs did not like Dean Kamen…so no Segway’s. I also heard that he does not like Jeff Bezos either.

      But imagine this…a rotating outer ring inside the entire building. It is a people mover throughout….always moving and it is magnetically levitated. 😀

    2. Also I’m betting the folks that need to work closely with each other will be placed close to each other.

      EXACTLY! This what the idiots having a conniption over this design don’t seem to understand. If, instead of one large building, Apple was to build multiple conventional buildings, would that be any more or less convenient? Of course not! But because it is being built as one structure, quick access from one part of the structure to any other part is for some reason perceived as essential. It’s not. Not at all.

      Do these same architects throw a hissy fit over the Pentagon?


  2. What a complete idiot. This building will attract people from all over the world. Not just architecture students but regular Apple fans like me. This building will make history. Goldberger not.

  3. Sooo, Goldberger is sore about this? What does he want? A square tower? Sorry dude, perhaps you are happy with a beige computer box but if you haven’t noticed, Apple does things differently.

    Wonder what whiny thoughts he had about Apple’s glowing cube at the Fifth Ave store?

  4. It would be cool to have little round Cupertino-pellet Apple Stores all around the country. If Verizon can buy land and build its own separate stores just being a middle-man, then Apple could build their own little mini-spaceship stores with trees and
    park benches inside…Gore would be delighted and could claim it was his idea to be so green. If women were straight lines, then men would have no interest…curves are in…doughnuts?…maybe.

  5. I am an architect, and in my opinion architectural critics should always be taken with a grain of salt.

    If the structure looked like a wrecked spaceship, partly hurried in the ground with demolished looking pieces scattered around the site, then it might get rave reviews from architectural “critics”.

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