Apple to Build Sprawl-Tastic Corporate Headquarters in Cupertino

Remember when Apple was the scrappy upstart? The cool alternative? All the sudden they have more money than the U.S. Treasury and they’re the ones environmentalists are complaining about.

Apple's new planned headquarters will assure minimal transit use, walking and biking. Photo: NRDC

If there was ever proof that Apple is cashing in its counter-cultural bona fides, it’s this rendering of the company’s new headquarters.

So much for the walkability that other tech companies are now striving for, says Kaid Benfield at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Switchboard blog:

While communities all up and down the Silicon Valley are trying to repair sprawl by replacing it with smart growth, Apple is actually taking a site that is now parking lots and low-rise boxes and making it worse for the community. Yes, it will be iconic, assuming you think a building shaped like a whitewall motorcycle tire is iconic, but it will reduce current street connectivity, seal off potential walking routes and, as I wrote some time back, essentially turn its back on its community. With a parking garage designed to hold over ten thousand cars, by the way.

It is essentially the opposite of the great vision of a suburban retrofit that was presented in this space yesterday. The site is remarkably similar, actually. But, while June Williamson and Anne Vaterlaus proposed increased walkability, infill housing, and a street grid on the site, Apple is removing a street and putting up “perimeter protection” to make sure that anyone who might want to ride a bike or walk from point A to point B will have to go around the enormous site.

The company didn’t have to do it this way. They could have built the site with a combination of corporate offices, new housing (the notorious shortage of affordable homes in the Silicon Valley causes much environmental damage), and neighborhood services. They still could have found a way to secure parts of their offices that need to be secure. If they built enough new units of housing, perhaps they could reduce the hefty amount of corporate parking, because some employees could choose to live nearby and walk. By facing the street, they could have set themselves up nicely for a future transit line

This comes on the heels of news that the bicycle is the mode of choice for high-tech workers. Instead of honoring that healthy trend, Apple chooses to treat its workers like corporate drones.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Stop and Move says the increase in transit use reflects greater long-term investment in facilities. Broken Sidewalk interviews Colombian transit legend Gil Peñalosa. And My Wheels are Turning highlights a guerrilla campaign to turn potholes into “mini gardens” in London.