iCon Rendering

The 2.8 million square foot “iCon” building designed by Foster + Partners sits at the center of the proposed Apple Campus 2 slated to be built down in Cupertino.

iCon Detail

In addition to the four-story “spaceship” for 12,000 employees, a four-story garage for 4,300 cars and a smattering of smaller buildings would rise on the 175-acre site.

Apple Campus 2 Site Map

As the former Hewlett Packard (HP) campus site currently appears:

Apple Campus 2 Site: Existing

A public meeting on the proposed development will be held this evening in Cupertino’s Community Hall at 6:30 pm, the meeting will be webcast live, hopefully not in Flash.

UPDATE: To clear up some confusion, the proposed campus would have a total of 10,500 parking spaces including 4,600 existing underground spaces, 1,500 new surface area spaces adjacent to the auditorium and research facilities, and 100 spaces for visitors in addition to the proposed above ground parking garage for 4,300 cars.

∙ Apple Campus 2: Overview | Renderings | Site Plan [cupertino.org]

47 thoughts on “The “iCon” At The Center Of Apple’s Proposed Cupertino Campus 2”
  1. Vast, expensive, awe-inspiring architecture; reminds me of the final days of the Raj. Maybe time to sell Apple.

  2. It has been observed by others that a sign to sell is about the time a company completes it’s brand, new state of the art, corporate campus.
    Of course this thing has to get approved and built first so, you have some time.

  3. Wackorama. Lost opportunity. Brutalist, crazy moat-like, inward looking, anti-community. Like a 1960s unfortunate experiment. Have we learned nothing about corporate physical space and the bigger picture? Just say NO. (imo)

  4. This is a vast improvement over the existing HP campus which is the classic collection of buildings surrounded by a sea of surface parking lots. (Hey, that describes Apple’s current campus on the other side of 280 too!) Nice choice to locate the parking garage up against I-280 though I wonder whether every employee will enjoy their 1/4 mile stroll from the garage to the office.
    Also interesting to see that the renderings depict mostly native landscaping. A little chunk of native Bay Area surrounds this new building.
    Lets see: a vast improvement on the site, xeriscaped native plantings, and a modern iconic building can only lead to one thing: intense NIMBY opposition.

  5. “It has been observed by others that a sign to sell is about the time a company completes it’s brand, new state of the art, corporate campus.”
    Yes, this is very common. In certain cities that have had rival locally headquartered companies building taller or more iconic skyscrapers, it is not uncommon for such topping salvo to be representative of a peak. In some cases, the proposed topper is never built because of financial issues.
    So yes, it could turn out to be a con. 🙂

  6. I am surprised the car haters have not chimed in more on this design. Sooner or later, some car hating San Franciscan’s will learn to accept that personal transportation vehicles, (that will become more “green” in coming decades), are part of modern life in huge vast sprawling urban areas like the Bay Area. What I find most interesting is that there are parts of the peninsula with a higher population/workplace density than many neighborhoods of “urban” San Francisco.
    I happen to like this design, LOVE the underground parking, and appreciate the landscaped edge.

  7. I agree with Invented — very inward looking, anti-community. Not that Cupertino is much of a community to start with, but you could plop this whole “campus” into any similar sized lot in any city and it would have the same effect on it’s surroundings. They go to great lengths to hide the whole thing from any outside view of it (according to the site plan pdf). It might as well not even be there. I kinda hate that.
    Also, I’m a little surprised that they didn’t plan any iHousing or iSchools to complete the full on cult experience.

  8. At the risk of being accused of “hating” cars, it’s important to note what a ridiculous notion it is that a large number of humans can each drive 3,000 pound vehicles around. The laws of physics make it a “capitalist pipe dream”: http://www.deathbycar.info/2011/06/physics-fantasy/
    Indeed, the car culture is probably the greatest mistake humans have made: http://carbusters.org/2011/09/08/are-cars-really-our-greatest-mistake/
    The Apple building is ugly and a waste of space.
    Seems fitting that the worker drones have to fight traffic in their 3 ton death machines to get to their remote and soulless “campus”. Looks almost impossible to get to via public transport. But, I guess in keeping with our new neoliberal reality, corporations have their own ‘public transport’ like the Google bus (so that even when a corporation encourages mass transit, it does so in a way that robs the community from also benefiting via increased usage of public transport).
    I don’t know if I ‘hate’ cars, but I’m starting to hate Apple.

  9. The parking is all under-ground. You’d think they’d use a greener green for the grass, looks like a dry field in those renderings.
    I love the fact that the apartment building on the bottom left held out and refused to sell.

  10. Here’s an interesting review of the proposal that notes the car-centric plan:
    “But the design should be viewed with a wider view and x-ray goggles. Here we can see what may become California’s largest underground depository of parked automobiles. (In fact there is not enough room underground for all the cars and Apple will also build a large 4-story above ground parking structure as well). Just peripheral of the campus are the traffic-clogged 280, 85, and 101 “freeways”. While Jobs mentioned a growing number of Apple employees commuting by bike and bus, it sounds like the site will offer a parking space to well over 90% of the total number of employees and visitors. While Apple’s new campus looks really modern, this is very much a last century “car-land” design.
    FearLess readers know this is no time for business as usual. Humanity has a massive challenge to respond to climate change. We need to adopt low carbon transportation ASAP. By building a car-centric company center in a fairly suburban setting, Apple misses an opportunity to respond to this urgent need.”

  11. Typical. 12,000 employees, 4300 parking spaces, and people are still complaining on SocketSite about parking. In Cupertino.
    I’m tempted to register SocketSiteParking.com just so our editor could move these senseless discussions over there. Both sides are silly in these parking “debates” (if they could really be called that) and neither side ever says anything meaningful.
    With respect to SFHawkGuy’s physics link, it’s well known that car manufacturers could produce far more fuel efficient cars if cars cost more. That’s why they fight mileage standards — they want cheaper cars.
    Internally at GM, it was stated, even at least 15 years ago, that they could produce 40 mpg cars quite easily, but they’d be slower and a lot more expensive. They instead sell to the market.
    It’s the same reason the car companies fought the bumper standards in the 80s (as shown by the famous undamaged Ford econobox of the time) — it costs more and adds weight. Safety equipment has certainly added weight too — if you took out airbags and all those bells and whistles (the original article says that the 60s cars likely had no air conditioning, for example), cars would weigh a lot less now compared to the 60s.
    By the way, if you read the original article in Autoweek (http://www.autonews.com/article/20110629/BLOG06/110629850/-1/mobile04&template=art4), you’d see that the tests are somewhat rigged. The old Biscayne and Rambler under non-EPA standards (i.e. probably more highway mileage than not and without any deduction) were being compared against EPA standards.
    The author was right about one thing — the comparison was completely unscientific.

  12. The walk from parking to the building is going to get old quickly. And the building should be located near good public transit routes for future means of travel, not in the middle of a field. Also, as others have noted, the creation of a trophy headquarters is a key signal of the end of a company – its a distraction for the leaders of a company. Finally, its a terrible design that requires large travel times to meet with others – look at the pentagon for a better floor plan.
    Does anyone doubt that there will be iPad clones that are 98% as good as the iPad out of China for $99 in a few years? That’s where all the manufacturing technology and know how is; India, with its software expertise, isn’t so far away.

  13. @sfrenegade: the 4,300 cars are only the tip of the iceberg, and apparently being incorrectly reported by John King. There seems to be a vast underground garage for 90% of the 12,000 employees on site.
    This proposal reminds me of the crazy ideas of once brilliant but now mentally deranged leader in his waning days, a la Howard Hughes. So much for Apple/Steve Jobs being a visionary. His vision of an urban future is 1950s’ vision of Futurama: wacky space-age archiecture dis-associated from an urban context where humans interact with each other and accessed exclusively by personal automobile. True, Cupertino has not real urban context on which to build and base a transit-served campus, but this is the opposite extreme. Heaven forbid that an Apple employee wants to eat lunch somewhere other than the corporate cafeteria under the all-watching eye of the AppleMan. Have fun with that quarter-mile hike to your car to then drive to the nearest Chipotle in a strip mall. Give me the shivers. Sounds like a dreary life. I guess sleeping on your bed of money in San Francisco at night, where Apple employees actually want to live, is a small consolation.

  14. sfrenenegade, you go resister a site where talk about transportation policy is not allowed (or where it’s only pro car/pro oil/pro war), and you can fiddle away about whatever you want. You complain about the topic of discussion and then launch into your opinion. So I know you want to talk about it anyway.
    One of the main complaints is the very fact they are locating in Cupertino. This means a large number of people will have to travel large distances, mostly by car. It’s a fairly removed suburban location is not in the broader communities interest because of the well-known externalities that suburban sprawl causes.
    As to some of your points, the second article I linked to states 90% of workers and visitors will have a parking space and that they will build an above ground garage as well (and that it will be California’s largest below ground parking garage). I guess there won’t be 12,000 employees there in the beginning? There is more parking spots planned for the future not included in the 4,300 number. I’m curious to see a more detailed transportation analysis of this proposal but it definitely seems to be car-centric and promotes sprawl.

  15. I find it ironic that the car fetishists are the ones who start the conversation about parking by complaining about how they expect others to complain about how there’s not enough parking, but it then turns out there will be 90% parking for employees AND visitors, meaning possibly more than 1 spot per every person who intends to drive, in the largest underground parking lot in the state.
    How many hundreds of millions will it cost Apple just to build the parking lots? Multi-level lots usually cost about $25,000 per space, with underground parking even more, putting the costs of the parking structure likely north of $300,000,000 (assuming about 11,000 total parking spaces).

  16. “You complain about the topic of discussion and then launch into your opinion. So I know you want to talk about it anyway.”
    Well, I was talking about physics, not parking and it’s an argument supported by facts, not an opinion. The article you cited was poorly written and thought out and has absolutely nothing to do with parking.
    I’m just not seeing how Apple’s decision to stay in Cupertino is even a valid criticism, but some people criticize everything that doesn’t fit within their ideology.

  17. “I find it ironic that the car fetishists are the ones who start the conversation about parking by complaining about how they expect others to complain about how there’s not enough parking”
    If you actually read my comment, I suggested that both sides of the argument were equally inane — each side is generally ideological and circular. Thanks for mischaracterizing me, anyway.

  18. Sfrenegade,
    The blog post I linked to above was probably not the best evidence of the argument, but Michael Dawson’s entire blog revolves around the thesis that:
    “however much some of us commoners in America may love using and thinking about automobiles, it is our corporate capitalists, not our Joe Sixpacks, who are the real car-addicts. Thanks to the normal working of the big business-dominated national and global economy, our overclass of big-time inheritors and investors is intractably addicted to selling us cars in crazy-huge numbers, forever, no matter the ecological and social consequences.
    Hence, our problem is sociological and political, not technical.
    Green cars, an oxymoronic concept if ever there was one, are simply not going to cut it, despite our masters’ increasingly strident suggestions to the contrary.
    What we need instead is a smart, powerful new social movement demanding a green, egalitarian New New Deal — a huge, radical, democratically-led national reconstruction program centering on remaking our towns and cities around genuinely sustainable transportation infrastructures. Before it is too late.”
    All his blog posts back up the main point (in an entertaining way), but if you want a more direct argument that there is no technological fix that will allow us to continue using energy the way we do and especially allow us all to drive individual 3,000 pound machines in sprawled communities, then check out this blog:
    For instance:
    “The 73 miles the Leaf travels on a full charge now puts it at an energy efficiency of 130 kWh/100-mi. The MPG equivalent number is 28 MPG. From a carbon-dioxide standpoint, you’d be better off burning the fossil fuel directly in your car.”

  19. sfrenegade,
    Here’s a scientific analysis about the potential of greater fuel efficiency for our gasoline cars:
    “Since I was a teenager, I frequently heard stories that some guy had invented a car that could get 100 miles per gallon (MPG), but that powerful interests (often GM, Chevron, etc.) had bought rights to the idea and sat on it. We suckers were left to shell out major bucks for gasoline, when a solution was in hand and under wraps.
    Leaving aside the notion that such a design would bring unbelievable prosperity to its holder (i.e., no real incentive to sit on it), let’s look at what physics says is possible. . . .”

  20. UPDATE: To clear up some confusion, and as outlined in the overview we linked to above, the campus would have a total of 10,500 parking spaces including 4,600 existing underground spaces, 1,500 new surface area spaces adjacent to the auditorium and research facilities, and 100 spaces for visitors in addition to the proposed above ground parking garage for 4,300.

  21. “its a terrible design that requires large travel times to meet with others”
    That might be a feature rather than a flaw, Apple deliberately isolates teams in order to keep product development a secret.

  22. Re: “Looks almost impossible to get to via public transport.”
    Well, the VTA has several bus lines running through Cupertino and there’s nothing stopping them (VTA) from adding a new route near this campus when it’s finished or modifying an existing route to go near it at that time.
    Cupertino is a suburb. You can’t really demand that projects built there be anywhere near as public-transit-supporting as ones built in The City.

  23. I’m continually amazed by all the anti-car rants I see on SS, but this discussion truly astounds me. If you want people to stop driving their cars, give them some decent alternatives. And don’t expect a company to install its headquarters right next to one of the Caltrain stations. That’s much harder than it looks.
    When you consider that people come in from SF, San Jose, and beyond, Cupertino isn’t actually that bad of a spot. It’s kind of in the middle. Palo Alto would probably be ideal, but office space, land, etc. is incredibly expensive. Who doesn’t want to be in Palo Alto?
    As to the complaint about the company placing its headquarters in Cupertino, that’s just absurd. Apple owns an _incredible_ amount of land in Cupertino and San Jose. They’ve always been in Cupertino. Why would they go elsewhere?
    Believe it or not, some people do choose their jobs in part based on the commute, but not everyone has the luxury to do so. I used to work in Palo Alto, but then my company moved to Santa Clara (a few blocks down from the new Apple campus to be). Dreading the commute from SF, I decided not to move with the company. Instead I took a job with a company in NYC that allows me to telecommute. No commute is the best commute.
    There’s this mistaken belief that people love to drive and don’t mind commutes. Bollocks. I’d rather take the train anyday and be able to read, do my work, or stare out the window. Unfortunately, Caltrain doesn’t go everywhere.
    Until the public decides that they want to spend the money to improve public transit, it isn’t going to happen. Sadly, no one wants to pay for it and no one wants it in their backyard. I wouldn’t blame Apple for any of this.
    Next, can anyone list a corporate campus in Silicon Valley that isn’t anti-community? I lived in Mountain View for 7 years, but I can’t think of one. Microsoft is in a wasteland. Google’s is crawling with security and doesn’t exactly invite you inside. Yahoo is a bunch of buildings, away from most life. I don’t even want to think about Cisco.
    Thing is, Apple doesn’t want to be integrated with the community. They have a lot to protect and want to keep track of who comes in and out. Keep in mind, most Apple employees aren’t even allowed into most of the Apple buildings. It’s on a need to access basis.
    If this campus turns out to be anything like the renderings, it’ll be a great place to work (at least aesthetically). The shape of the building should lead to a ton of natural light. I’d much rather work in that type of place rather than the florescent lit cube farms typical of most Silicon Valley tech companies.
    The fact that the main building is hidden from the street doesn’t bother me. I’d rather see greenery and trees instead of a bunch of boring office buildings.
    Seriously, how can anyone complain about this? Have any of you ever driven through the soul-sucking office parks in Santa Clara?
    Okay, enough with rant.

  24. First off, lyqwyd, my bad, I misread you.
    Second, SFHawkguy, I can’t speak to the accuracy of that website, but at least for diesel engines, which the author acknowledges are more efficient, we have 78 mpg vehicles without even hybridizing them and without having a “locomotive troutcar.”
    Look up the VW Lupo 3L, which was made in Europe. In Europe, they call this a “3 liter car” because it uses 3L per 100 km, which is the equivalent of 78 mpg. The author says the theoretical high point is 84 mpg, which is reduced to 63 mpg because of rolling resistance, lower efficiency, and air conditioning, but that belief contradicts reality. In addition, if you read the comments, people are getting higher than 78 mpg in reality (as opposed to the European duty cycle that determines the Lupo 3L gets 3L per 100 km).
    MPG as a measure probably isn’t as good as gallons per 100 miles because it doesn’t focus on fuel use. This is probably intentional. Describing a Prius as 2 gal/100 mi as opposed to 50 mpg makes it easier to compare raw numbers of gallons. A Civic that gets combined 33 mpg, say, is 3 gal/100 mi. A Chevy Tahoe that gets 12 mpg, say, is 8.5 gal/100 mi. That means we could save a lot more gas moving people from Tahoes to Civics, than from Civics to Priuses — the incremental gain isn’t as much. That’s why it’s hard to have a 100 mpg car.

  25. Lurker,
    I don’t know why it “astounds” or “amazes” you that people think car-centric planning has serious consequences and that they want to do something about it on a society-wide level. It seems the “pro-car” side gets very emotional and is first to resort to playing the martyr. I have no love or hate for the inanimate object that is a 1.5 ton vehicle (thanks for the correction fred). The hate the 9/11 level number of deaths we face every month from our car culture. Or the despoiling of the climate, the reliance on war as a foreign policy, and the many other negative effects.
    You’re right that most of Silicon Valley is planned this way. This doesn’t mean it should never change. If anything, your example of Santa Clara or your explanation of your personal preferences show that the old 20th century car-first planning does not work for the majority of people today. It may suit the large corporations just fine, but not the rest of us. Your argument boils down to a resigned acceptance to bad planning because that’s the way it has been done in the past and that’s what suits the big corporations.
    They absolutely should require new construction of this size to be situated close to CalTrains.
    Also, I don’t understand your point that not everyone gets to choose a job based on a commute. Doesn’t that prove my point? That since there are few job options people are forced to go through a lot of extra pain and expense to commute somewhere they wouldn’t choose to commute to because it suits the employer rather than the employees and the community. We need to start making corporations do what’s in our interest–not only theirs.
    I doubt the bus lines will help people that are commuting from farther than 10 miles or so. If someone was coming from the City or San Jose and took the train and then had to transfer to a bus (and then walk across the campus), it would be a nightmare. Being near Caltrain or BART is much more viable.
    I’m not a scientist and I’m open to the idea that the oil companies and car companies could achieve much greater fuel efficiency, with current technology and even without producing trout cars. But even with greater efficiency for gasoline cars, the main problem of a finite amount of fossil fuels still exists. As more and more people drive cars around the world we will eventually run out of fuel. The blog author does also show that the “green” cars rely on a lot of carbon and are not sufficient substitutes (check out his post about how wind and solar require batteries and there is not enough lead to make enough batteries).
    Are you arguing that we won’t run out of gasoline, or it will be way off, or are you arguing that science will be able to come up with alternative sources of fuel and still have a car-centered society?

  26. This plan reminds me of European royal estates– large and extravagant demonstrations of wealth and power, nowadays surrounded by more ordinary homes. Howard Hughes-like, sure, but also awesome in its way. After all, megalomania has given us some pretty remarkable landmarks, like Neuschwanstein. European cities often have centrally-located old estates which have been repurposed as museums and city parks (will the public have access to the grounds?).
    So I don’t think the design is inherently anti-urban. Put it down in a location with a nearby train station surrounded by walkable commercial and residential areas, and you have the makings of a area-defining landmark. That said, as it’s planned, surrounded by fences and a moat of high-speed roads, I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere near it. But, hey, it’s not my city, and it’s not my money. If they like it, let ’em build.

  27. In Europe, they call this a “3 liter car” because it uses 3L per 100 km, which is the equivalent of 78 mpg.
    Keep in mind European fuel consumption testing standards are different from the US EPA’s. If I’m not mistaken, the European mileage numbers would be lower if tested by EPA standards (which are outdated).

  28. Getting back to the design, it is interesting to compare the Foster building to the Pentagon.
    1. Size – both buildings are huge. With an outer radius of 760 feet, the Apple building is within a few feet of the center to outside point dimension of the Pentagon. Both have 4 floors and a sloped roof.
    2. Section. The pentagon has Apple has a single 180 foot deep section with a series of internal light shafts, the Pentagon 5-50 foot deep rings separated by 25 foot wide light wells. Which has better light and air? Arguably, the Pentagon.
    3. Both have an athletic club and a conference center as separate, adjacent structures. At only 25,000 sf, Apple’s athletic center is paltry in comparison to the Pentagon’s, which is used by roughly 1/4 of its staff on a daily basis.
    4. Just as nearly all Pentagon employees have have had the experience of being lost in a seemingly endless corridor at some point, will Apple employees be caught in their own infinite loop?
    5. Apple will likely have much better food.

  29. Yes! The Pentagon comparison occurred to me too. It looks like the Pentagon has a lot more floor area(6.5m vs 2.8m sf) at the expense of the central plaza (0.2m vs 1m sf). More employees: 26000 vs 12000. It also has fewer parking spaces (7700 vs 10500), but it has a Metro stop.

  30. If the battle over Kaiser at Lawrence and Homestead was any sign, it will take a while to get built. Surprised Cupertino would let the Pruneridge throughfare be discontinued. Also, how many employees and cars were associated with the existing buildings at their highpoint. That may make the whole argument moot.

  31. As an ex-HP employee that used to work in the HP buildings that will be demolished for this campus, in regards to public transit, there was ample selection. There is VTA (as previously noted), and shuttles that take/took employees to/from CalTrain (Lawrence Station) and Amtrak.
    I’m sure Apple in addition will amp-up the public transit for this campus, just as they have for their current campus and outlying buildings in Cupertino.

  32. Are you arguing that we won’t run out of gasoline, or it will be way off, or are you arguing that science will be able to come up with alternative sources of fuel and still have a car-centered society?
    I’m not arguing any of those things, and it’s an extremely poor response to suggest that I was. All I said was that your link on theoretical gas mileage could be contradicted by real life examples, and implicitly that you probably shouldn’t fully rely on that analysis.
    Keep in mind European fuel consumption testing standards are different from the US EPA’s. If I’m not mistaken, the European mileage numbers would be lower if tested by EPA standards (which are outdated).
    Yes, but the author of the link did not refer to EPA standards or the European driving cycle, just to theoretical possibilities. He thought theoretically that 84 mpg was the max possible without having a “locomotive troutcar,” and that real life testing circumstances would lower it to 63 mpg. Whether 78 mpg was achieved using the European driving cycle or the EPA standard is orthogonal to my point.
    Yes, the Lupo 3L uses diesel, and the author is focusing on gas engines, but the author acknowledges already that diesel is more efficient and strangely dismisses it in his argument as a way to hit 100 mpg. And in fact, there are already test vehicles using new technologies that can exceed his 63 mpg mark on gasoline (for example, Transonic: http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/24701/).
    An addition point to note is that it’s believed that HCCI gasoline engines could hit 40% efficiency when the technology is mature. The author of the article assumes gas efficiency can’t be above 30%, but I’m not exactly sure why. We could even switch to alternative fuels — if we find an efficient way to make hydrogen, BMW’s hydrogen engine I believe has 42% efficiency.

  33. I have thought, perhaps mistakenly, that an infinite loop was the result of a programming error, and thus found a certain irony in Apple’s current address. Or perhaps it is a summary of Apple’s marketing strategy. In any case, a building with this geometry does have inherent user orientation issues that the designers will have to address.
    It will be interesting to see how the design evolves, and if the design can retain its conceptual purity through the design process – something that Steve Jobs was particularly good at directing.

  34. What a joke. This is nothing more than a glorified business park development. It breaks all the basic rules of great urban planning. It contributes to an unsustainable development pattern (i.e. post WWII suburban or exurban pattern). Forget the flying saucer crap and build something that enhances the public realm in downtown San Jose! An investment of this size in downtown SJ could easily jumpstart the process of turning downtown SJ into a 24 hour district (and could actually, over a 10-15 yr period, shift the center of gravity away from San Francisco)
    And by the way, all the wonderful gadgets Apple has been inventing are most useful in a vibrant urban setting. So, it only makes sense to invest in that type of setting.

  35. As a former long-time Apple employee, I recall the many buildings that they have occupied, including the campus they built themselves to replace the Motorola campus that had structural problems after the 1989 quake.
    The “Infinite Loop” name for the circle road around the campus resulted from an employee naming contest.
    The biggest problem I see is that the circular shape will maximize the distance people have to walk to visit other offices or conference rooms, thus encouraging people to use digital means to accomplish their communications. e.g. iChat instead of walking to another office for a conversation. I used to enjoy walking to other offices in other buildings at the Infinite Loop campus.

  36. ^I can’t imagine that that will be that common. It won’t be likely that you deal with people that are on the other side of the loop that much, since the total loop holds 12,000+ people. The vast majority of people that you deal with daily will be fairly close by.

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