Democracy & Technology Blog Apple’s Orchard, an Act of Design Excellence

Steve Jobs, who grew up in Cupertino, CA, has blessed his home town with a proposed new campus for Apple that is spectacular in its vision, as well as in its optimism about the company’s future.
In a matter-of-fact presentation to the Cupertino City Council Jobs presented plans that were received with stolid approval, but that justified celebratory balloons and a town band. That’s because the new scheme is a design breakthrough. The new headquarters Jobs wants to build will transform land that once was apricot orchards and is now a sprawl of undistinguished high tech office buildings into a spectacular single building that will house up to 13,000 people in a kind of donut shape of glass, steel and cement with a vast interior courtyard. it also restored much of the 150 acre landscape to its Old California feel.
Whereas 20 percent of the current property is devoted to landscaping, 80 percent will be so dedicated under the plan Jobs unveiled. There will be 7000 trees in space with 3700 trees now. Some of the new trees will be in apricot orchards, a perfect tribute to the pre-tech days of Silicon Valley. Ninety percent of the parking will be underground or in a new parking structure, whereas ninety percent today is in asphalt lots.
Energy for the new campus will go off-grid for primary usage (employing natural gas, Jobs says), reversing the company’s current process that puts grid-use first, backed up by generators. For a computer company, that’s quite a commitment.
One of the City Council members, undoubtedly thinking she was in some run of the mill rezoning hearing, asked Jobs whether he would provide some “benefits” for the public if his plan is approved, like, she suggested “free wi-fi”. The Apple founder replied, drolly, “We pay taxes,” and then added that Apple is, indeed, the biggest taxpayer in town, by far. You can use our tax monies on free wi-fi if you like, he suggested. A little fog lifted with that remark, and all the rest was well-deserved Council praise.
Photo: Reuters/Cupertino City Hall

Bruce Chapman

Cofounder and Chairman of the Board of Discovery Institute
Bruce Chapman has had a long career in American politics and public policy at the city, state, national, and international levels. Elected to the Seattle City Council and as Washington State's Secretary of State, he also served in several leadership posts in the Reagan administration, including ambassador. In 1991, he founded the public policy think tank Discovery Institute, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board and director of the Chapman Center on Citizen Leadership.