With ‘spaceship’ campus, Apple retreats to the suburbs

“Apple Inc.’s stunning new Campus 2 in Cupertino, California, will be one of Steve Jobs’ lasting legacies when completed in 2015,” Edward Tenner reports for Bloomberg News.

“For better or worse, he was thinking differently to the end, striving for geographic self-sufficiency even as many other high-technology enterprises across the country were starting to return to city life,” Tenner reports. “Will this approach, and the complex that embodies it, renew Apple’s culture of excellence or retard it?”

“Costing an estimated $5 billion and covering 175 acres, with 2.8 million square feet of office space for 13,000 employees, the doughnut-shaped building designed by Norman Foster may be the ultimate in green architecture,” Tenner reports. “But the 700 newly planted trees that will surround it are dual-use foliage.”

Apple Campus 2 project - Cupertino, CA
Apple Campus 2 project – Cupertino, CA

“According to a planning document, Apple’s goal was 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,'” Tenner reports. “Apple is almost alone in its retreat from the street grid. In fact, the trend has been to shed suburban centers and migrate to academic neighborhoods in cities.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. It’s “chicken little” attitudes like these which are the reason why cities are failing, and soulless, cookie-cutter suburbs are successful. If Apple relocated to San Francisco, I’d be fine with that, but they are moving to a soulless, cookie-cutter, sprawling suburb with no culture or history. I dealt with urban decay firsthand because I grew up in the Bronx in the 1980s. I used to hate people out in the ‘burbs because their selfish, greedy lifestyles were the reason there was crime and poverty in my neighborhood. More companies need to forget the burbs, and move in closer to town.

      1. What’s dumb about it? This is what’s “dumb”: Tearing down pristine forest and farmland just to put up a “neighborhood” with cute names like “Forest Glen” or “Lakewood Plaza” even though there is no nature whatsoever. And you put thousands of people in the middle of nowhere so they can drive to nearby cities, thus polluting our fragile Earth. Now, if people all lived in cities or small towns, instead of wasteful suburbs with trashy shopping malls, then that would be doing the Earth some favors.

        1. Well in this case Apple chopped down a commercial zone of soul-less, cookie-cutter buildings and asphalt to create a forest.
          So… good on them.

          And Apple isn’t “moving there”.
          Apple has been based in Cupertino since the 70s. Jobs grew up around there. It’s a legitimate community, and “home” to some pretty smart, creative and cool people thank-you-very-much.

          1. Thank you. You rebutted it perfectly. Apple is improving an area that *was* a cement wasteland. (where did the article even say it was “pristine forest” anyway?

            And to claim that Apple is “moving” to an area with no history? Apple has been a part of the digital history of Cupertino for decades. And the campus they are replacing was HP’s campus before they moved to Palo Alto. There is history.

        2. If you look through the history of the human population you will note that it’s been relatively constant until recently.

          Agriculture has provided a boost but it has been the industrial revolution that has given way to exponential growth.

          This growth explosion has lead to your observations about forest and farmlands, the urban sprawl and much much more. Meanwhile, religion one of the driving Judeo-Christian forces of social breeding has not changed their motto that runs along the lines of “go forth and multiply” even though it’s been well pointed out that this is just a prelude to a Malthusian catastrophe.

          That’s all nice, and normally I’d yawn a bit at your post but I just had to chuckle at this ” Tearing down pristine forest and farmland just to put up a “neighborhood” with cute names like “Forest Glen” or “Lakewood Plaza” even though there is no nature whatsoever.”

          No nature whatsoever? What kind of concept is that? Downtown Bronx, high rises, concrete and steel, these are all natural, as natural as an ant hill. Humans are part of nature, and there is nothing wrong to say that things made by humans are artificial, sure, but artificial things are a subset of natural. To suggest that humans and their creative constructs are not or beyond nature, well that falls into the realm of the arrogant, ill informed, uneducated, disjointed, unconnected concepts that runs rampant throughout many a civilization.

          The earth does not require any favors. Many many years ago a group of organisms, plants, decided to pollute the planet with oxygen. The planet’s doing fine, in fact it’s put that pollutant to good use. The same with the toxic materials humans produce. It’s incredible ego arrogance that believes that humans could actually destroy life on Earth but the reality is that releasing all those nuclear bombs, and toxic chemicals would not wipe out all life on this planet, the humans might be gone, but life itself, puhlease, humans are nowhere near that ability.

          Now if humans wanted to do humans a favor they’d consider limiting their population growth. The technology is there, but the will power is certainly not. Perhaps a crisis or a realization will be a wake up call and that is an option but it’s not the only one. The human population will be regulated one way or another.

          Good post, thanks for the food for thought.

        1. I’m sorry to hear how bitter you are that suburbs “made” you neighborhood so crime ridden. I’m also sorry to hear that you think everybody should live in old cookie cutter buildings in cities instead of new cookie cutter houses in the suburbs.

          For you information, Cupertino was incorporated in 1955 as a bedroom comunity but quickly grew into a city of its own. in the 1960’s a group of 25 property owners pooled together to create a industrial park which was later sold to Hewlett-Packard. It is that industrial complex which Apple is replacing with its forthcoming campus. I believe a fifty year old, 175 acre industrial complex does not qualify as building in a 10 year old suburb.

        2. You can live in Los Angeles. Or you can live in Burbank. Both are cities. One is crime ridden and overtaxed. The other is not. It’s a free country. You can live where you want. Most of us want to live where it’s safe and affordable. Just sayin.

        3. Apollonia really needs to do some actual homework.

          When Apple was founded in the late ’70s, Cupertino was already quite suburban. Apple’s current headquarters had been built a few years before Apple emerged by another computer company whose founders left Fairchild Semiconductor, which had been in the area developing semiconductor components since before 1960.

          Cupertino and nearby cities like Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara were all in place and driving semiconductor and computer development before Apple arrived.

        4. “Apple should have invested in an already existing city, rather than a poorly planned suburb that probably wasn’t there ten years ago… ”

          To say this about Cupertino has got to one of the more ridiculous things I’ve read in a long time. Apollonia – do yourself a favor and do a bit of research before responding further, and showing how exceedingly ignorant you are.

    1. This…isn’t a “soulless, cookie-cutter suburb”. It looks more like New Urbanism to me. Think places like Seaside, Florida, and Walt Disney’s planned village of Celebration, also in Florida. Looks nothing like suburbia…

    2. Not everyone wants to live in a high rise in a dense city that is nothing but smog choked, filth strewn, crime ridden and full of rude people.

      People move out of cities into the suburbs to raise families and when they’ve had enough of the city life grit.

      Your arrogance and misunderstanding of societal evolution is astounding

    3. Really? People living in suburbs are the cause of crime and poverty? Maybe the cause of the crime is because some people feel entitled to what others have, and don’t want to work for it. Maybe the poverty was caused by liberal politicians and bureaucrats who dole out tax payer dollars and encourage people to live with the bare minimum instead of creating policies that encourage businesses in the area to grow and flourish, and hire people. There’s nothing selfish about wanting to move outside of the city. There’s nothing “soulless” about the suburbs. How is it “greedy” to want to live in a different area? Aren’t we all entitled to live the lives that we choose, or must we all conform to someone else’s liberal utopian master plan? Apple has a right to do what’s best for them, and it’s a good thing that they don’t consult first with people like you. Are you even aware of the fact that Apple is currently sprawled out all over Cupertino? As an Apple employee, I visited Cupertino several years ago. I went into four different buildings in addition to Apple’s campus at 1 Infinite Loop. They have offices everywhere.

  2. Actually, the Mothership is urban as it should be, not some sterile, pavement covered canyon. Surround the campus with reasonably priced condominium homes and people could walk or bike to work. Surround the campus with strip malls and car dealerships and it becomes an oasis in the middle of wrong-headed development. Cupertino has some deciding to do.

  3. “Apple is almost alone in its retreat from the street grid. In fact, the trend has been to shed suburban centers and migrate to academic neighborhoods in cities.”
    Almost alone? Has the author ever been to Silicon Valley?

  4. What idiocy.
    Author should go to Silicon Valley before writing about it. Drive around here a bit. Huge companies or what are perceived as huge but maybe aren’t are nestled in buildings that separate neighborhoods or are on main suburban roads.

    Perhaps look at LinkedIn who is building two huge buildings on the corner of a decidedly suburban crossroads in Sunnyvale, mere miles from Infinite Loop.

    Ill informed “journalism”.

  5. I’m not sure if it’s somewhere in the whole article but the writer really should take a look on Apple or Google maps to see where Apple currently has their Headquarters and other close by buildings. If Cupertino isn’t the very definition of Suburb I don’t know what is.

    Apparently neither does the writer.

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