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LA Times critic disparages Apple Campus 2 as 'retrograde cocoon'

post #1 of 306
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The architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times has panned Apple's proposed mega-campus in Cupertino, Calif., as lacking vision and resembling a "retrograde cocoon."

Christopher Hawthorne profiled the project for the publication on Saturday, criticizing it for "removing the feeling of a collective metropolitan realm" by wrapping its workers in a suburban setting. He also challenged Cupertino city council members for not being inquisitive enough to question former Apple CEO Steve Jobs about the project during a June meeting to unveil the proposal.

Hawthorne acknowledged the planned building's "futuristic gleam," while also noting that the project is a "doggedly old-fashioned proposal." He went on to compare it to the 1943 Pentagon building, which spans 1,566 feet, as compared to the 1,615-foot diameter of the circular building Apple hopes to build. The report also drew similarities between the project and "much of the suburban corporate architecture of the 1960s and '70s."

The critic also went on to challenge Apple's assertion that the campus would be green, arguing instead that the site's "dependence on the car" undermines environmentally friendly efforts.



Additionally, Hawthorne took issue with Apple's usual veil of secrecy surrounding the project. The company has yet to formally acknowledge the architect that designed the building, though Jobs has said that Apple hired "some of the best in the world" to work with. Preliminary plans for the campus made available by the city of Cupertino by London firm Foster + Partners, founded by renowned architect Norman Foster.

According to the report, Apple's proposed "Campus 2 Project" is a classic example of "pastoral capitalism," a label coined by UC Berkeley professor Louise A. Mozingo. The term refers to an American tendency for a corporation "to turn its back on cities and stake a claim on the suburban pastoral idyll isolated, proprietary, verdant, and disengaged from civic space," a description that Hawthorne believes perfectly fits Apple's planned headquarters.

"The new Apple campus, which the company describes as "a serene and secure environment" for its employees, keeps itself aloof from the world around it to a degree that is unusual even in a part of California dominated by office parks. The proposed building is essentially one very long hallway connecting endlessly with itself," Hawthorne concluded.





For his part, Jobs has asserted that Apple could "have a shot at building the best office building in the world," while also describing it as looking "a little like a spaceship landed."

Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong has expressed certainty that the project will get approved. "There is no chance that we're saying no," he said in June.

Wong also revealed last week that Apple is expected to begin work on a third campus after the Campus 2 project is finished in 2015. Jobs has said that Apple will quickly outgrow the new campus' 13,000 employee capacity given its current growth rates.

Cupertino residents voiced concerns during a planning meeting last week that the new campus would increase traffic problems and bring about overwhelming growth.

"Traffic is at the top of our list. 280 is a tragedy now, this isn't going to get any better. We're also concerned about public access to what will be Cupertino's Taj Mahal, with people from all over the world coming to visit it," said one resident.
post #2 of 306
Well, this should ruffle a few feathers here.
post #3 of 306
An uninteresting opinion without basis, that guarantees immediate attention at the expense of future respect.

ken
post #4 of 306
Well it isn't like he's going to have to work there, now is he? On top of that, I think that the green space is a welcome site for a fairly urban area. There aren't enough of them IMO. I think the building is going to be an icon for years to come and Cupertino would be stupid not to allow it to move forward.
post #5 of 306
Much of his criticisms are spot-on. However, he fails to mention the very real practical challenges of building a second campus in a city, far from 1 Infinite Loop. Unless they were to ditch their headquarters and relocate, reaching further into the sprawl is the only practical course of action.

So, given the limitation of needing to be close to headquarters, I think the new campus is spectacular. The architect (whoever it may be) and Uncle Steve should be proud.
post #6 of 306
I guess you have to presuppose that the feeling of a metropolitan realm (which I read as a concrete canyon) is a good thing.

I'm not sure where it has the suburban feel, because even those are littered with cookie-cutter houses with a circuitous layout. The "spaceship" is a more effective use of the land than the existing buildings and you get a bonus of a lot more and better green space.
post #7 of 306
It is called a mother ship. Hello. Steve and I are gonna meet there and have Iced mochas. As far a the critics go. Well do they have 10's of billions of dollars in spare change? NO! Get a life man.
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post #8 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wilkie View Post

Much of his criticisms are spot-on. However, he fails to mention the very real practical challenges of building a second campus in a city, far from 1 Infinite Loop. Unless they were to ditch their headquarters and relocate, reaching further into the sprawl is the only practical course of action.

So, given the limitation of needing to be close to headquarters, I think the new campus is spectacular. The architect (whoever it may be) and Uncle Steve should be proud.

The criticisms are shaped from the enviable position of critique. Namely not having to formulate and be responsible for an actual and economic solution. If the critique is deserving, he would be in a position to have made a difference in the design
post #9 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I guess you have to presuppose that the feeling of a metropolitan realm (which I read as a concrete canyon) is a good thing.

I'm not sure where it has the suburban feel, because even those are littered with cookie-cutter houses with a circuitous layout. The "spaceship" is a more effective use of the land than the existing buildings and you get a bonus of a lot more and better green space.

It's not about "the feeling of a metropolitan realm", but rather limitations of space, resources, transit, and environmental concerns that lead the architectural community to largely favor metropolitan development.

In addition to that, culture and diversity are typically scarce in suburban areas relative to a city. It's considered to be a shame when company keeps all these talented, wealthy, and well-educated people cooped-up within the confines of a suburban setting, rather than mixed into a larger group that would greatly benefit from the presence of the type of people that work for a company like Apple.
post #10 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenliles View Post

The criticisms are shaped from the enviable position of critique. Namely not having to formulate and be responsible for an actual and economic solution. If the critique is deserving, he would be in a position to have made a difference in the design

You may not hold that position if you were to engage in more Architectural discourse. Many of the most influential and well-respected ideas in Architecture come from theorists, not practitioners.

The same is true in engineering, of course. The Mac wouldn't exist without Xerox's "non-practical, proof-of-concept" research on the desktop metaphor, for example.
post #11 of 306
I would not want to work in a circular environment like that. There is a reason that most of our architecture is right angled, and logical. People will feel out of sorts, disoriented, and uncomfortable in a space like this.
post #12 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wilkie View Post

You may not hold that position if you were to engage in more Architectural discourse. Many of the most influential and well-respected ideas in Architecture come from theorists, not practitioners.

The same is true in engineering, of course. The Mac wouldn't exist without Xerox's "non-practical, proof-of-concept" research on the desktop metaphor, for example.

Except for one thing...

Unlike Xerox's "non-practical, proof-of-concept" research on the desktop metaphor... I don't see anything that the critic puts forward as an example of the direction he believes that Apple should go.
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post #13 of 306
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Originally Posted by photoshop59 View Post

I would not want to work in a circular environment like that. There is a reason that most of our architecture is right angled, and logical. People will feel out of sorts, disoriented, and uncomfortable in a space like this.

You sound like Samsung prior to the introduction of the iPad.
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post #14 of 306
I'm an Apple user since 2000 and I completely agree. When you form a circle around something, there are no square edges to break. The circle is psychological to the employees. When you control the majority of the world's technology, I can see the reason for the concern.
post #15 of 306
While I’m far from an expert on the subject I’ve read a little about designing/structuring spaces to enhance particular ways humans interact with the environment.

The comment that this campus is not well integrated within the rest of the city is a valid point, but in all fairness which company really does that with their HQ now that secrecy is paramount to maintaining a competitive advantage?

The design is not bad it’s just emphasising internal rather than external collaboration. The low profile encourages people to walk between floors and office spaces rather than take elevators. And the circular shape encourages outdoor excursions by making them the shortest route between any two points.

The all glass exterior makes this less imposing. Much like Apple products, it doesn’t pretend to “fit” into the existing landscape, but rather “invite” you into a new one.
post #16 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by photoshop59 View Post

I would not want to work in a circular environment like that. There is a reason that most of our architecture is right angled, and logical. People will feel out of sorts, disoriented, and uncomfortable in a space like this.

The circle is so large that the curvature will barely be noticeable. The Earth appears flat from one man's perspective, doesn't it? The same will be true here, albeit to a lesser degree.

Also, I take issue with your insinuation that circles are somehow not "logical". The circle rightly occupies a seat at the table with all the other "logical" forms. Whether you're talking about Euclid or Aristotle's "pure" forms or more modern mathematical paradigms, the circle is about as logical as any form could be.
post #17 of 306
Hey everyone! The Critic Has Spoken! All Hail The Critic!

Who gives a sheet what some critic thinks. I'd like to see his ugly apt in West Hollywood.
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post #18 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wilkie View Post

Much of his criticisms are spot-on.

"removing the feeling of a collective metropolitan realm"

Once I read that, I knew this guy was a kook. He says that as if it is a bad thing. As if everyone and their dog should live in a crowded dirty inner city. The very fact that this building does "[remove] the feeling of a collective metropolitan realm" is a HUGE plus beyond beliefe.
post #19 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

Except for one thing...

Unlike Xerox's "non-practical, proof-of-concept" research on the desktop metaphor... I don't see anything that the critic puts forward as an example of the direction he believes that Apple should go.

He didn't cite a specific example, but he clearly articulated that large workspaces should exist within metropolitan areas bearing greater civic weight.
post #20 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wilkie View Post

He didn't cite a specific example, but he clearly articulated that large workspaces should exist within metropolitan areas bearing greater civic weight.

That just sounds like an opinion... no theory involved.
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post #21 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by photoshop59 View Post

I would not want to work in a circular environment like that. There is a reason that most of our architecture is right angled, and logical. People will feel out of sorts, disoriented, and uncomfortable in a space like this.

I really don't see the problem. It's easier to design and build, I don't think humans are really adapted to any particular shape or organization. If your reasoning was true, then our highways would hopelessly disorient people, the same goes for housing developments. Humanity developed in nature, and there's precious few right angles to be found in nature. Besides, the curvature is so slight in a given room that I doubt anyone would notice except in the hallways and very large rooms.
post #22 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

"removing the feeling of a collective metropolitan realm"

Once I read that, I knew this guy was a kook. He says that as if it is a bad thing. As if everyone and their dog should live in a crowded dirty inner city. The very fact that this building does "[remove] the feeling of a collective metropolitan realm" is a HUGE plus beyond beliefe.

A "crowded dirty inner city" is hardly the Architectural ideal. Most Architectural theorists envision cities that are far more organized and better-planned than any that exist today.

That said, I don't like this guy's tone, either. What he should have said was something about how Apple is such a visionary, wealthy, and influential company that it perhaps should have used this new building as an opportunity to set a new standard in Architecture and urban planning. It would be possible, for example, that this new campus could serve as the foundation of a "city of the future", if you will.
post #23 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wilkie View Post

It's not about "the feeling of a metropolitan realm", but rather limitations of space, resources, transit, and environmental concerns that lead the architectural community to largely favor metropolitan development.

That "the feeling of a metropolitan realm" also is dark, depressing and confining is also a reason the vast majority of people fled out of the inner city areas. The idea that you have a campus that can have the best of both is sweet. The openness of all the glass and green will create a sensation of not being held within the prison of a metropolitan realm but still being able to visit for food and culture when needed.
post #24 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

That just sounds like an opinion... no theory involved.

The theories upon which he's basing his opinion are well-established in the Architectural community no need to restate them. The principle of "suburban sprawl" was written off decades ago by just about everyone who knows anything about Architecture and urban planning.

Would a medical writer need to break new theoretical ground in depression research in order to criticize a new cold medicine that causes depression? I think not.
post #25 of 306
Anybody know the cost of that thing?
post #26 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wilkie View Post

A "crowded dirty inner city" is hardly the Architectural ideal. Most Architectural theorists envision cities that are far more organized and better-planned than any that exist today.

The Soleri's of the world have been dreaming of that for decades but it is far from the reality we live in. What Hawthorne calls a "collective metropolitan realm" tend to be a dirty, crime ridden inner cities. The idea that people actually want to live in densely populated space with minimal personal space because we want to interact all the time is absurd.
post #27 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wilkie View Post

The theories upon which he's basing his opinion are well-established in the Architectural community no need to restate them. The principle of "suburban sprawl" was written off decades ago by just about everyone who knows anything about Architecture and urban planning.

The issue is, most Architectural theorist are also clueless about human interaction, personalities and psychology. We do not want to live with 200,000 other people in a 1 square mile area.
post #28 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

That "the feeling of a metropolitan realm" also is dark, depressing and confining is also a reason the vast majority of people fled out of the inner city areas. The idea that you have a campus that can have the best of both is sweet. The openness of all the glass and green will create a sensation of not being held within the prison of a metropolitan realm but still being able to visit for food and culture when needed.

Again, I will restate that theorists do not think today's inner cities are in any way ideal. Look into current Architectural theory and you will find that the cities envisioned for the future will be vertical, yes. But they will also be rich with vegetation, vertical farms, and centered around major civic structures like museums, theaters, and municipal buildings. If Apple's not the company that will embrace that idea, and build a new campus that could serve as the foundation for such a city, then who?

If every company was to build structures like this one, we'd be left will all the same transit, cultural scarcity, and resource issues we have today.
post #29 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by photoshop59 View Post

I would not want to work in a circular environment like that. There is a reason that most of our architecture is right angled, and logical. People will feel out of sorts, disoriented, and uncomfortable in a space like this.

You sound like a women who can't navigate a car lol

Stay off the roads please, perhaps take the bus to your boxed factory job where you feel safe not using your brain.
post #30 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

The issue is, most Architectural theorist are also clueless about human interaction, personalities and psychology. We do not want to live with 200,000 other people in a 1 square mile area.

Read Jennifer Bloomer and tell me you still think that's true. Architectural theory is as much about psychology as it is about engineering. Of course nobody wants to live 200,000 per square mile, but nor is it realistic to think the earth can continue to support all the sprawl required to support an ever-growing population that wants to be surrounded by nothing but trees. There's a happy medium.
post #31 of 306
If you grew up in or around Cupertino you'd know a few things right off the bat: the area is almost entirely car-driven, and there is no "downtown" to speak of. There's no subway, light rail or commuter train. To reach the local train station requires a 15-minute drive to Sunnyvale. There's an older mall which was once innovative but has faded badly with mismanagement. That mall has the only thing resembling a transit hub and that only serves buses. If a transit -oriented development were suitable (or even possible) then it might make sense. That anchor or magnet doesn't exist. The critic isn't proposing moving out of Cupertino, but he also isn't taking the historical context into account. At least this is in keeping with the history of the Valley, which has few architectural gems and where office buildings are knocked down everyday to make room for new ones. It's not a place for a grand, phallic tower. With a few exceptions, it's a place of understated humility, not Vegas.
post #32 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

"removing the feeling of a collective metropolitan realm"

Once I read that, I knew this guy was a kook. He says that as if it is a bad thing. As if everyone and their dog should live in a crowded dirty inner city. The very fact that this building does "[remove] the feeling of a collective metropolitan realm" is a HUGE plus beyond beliefe.

Agreed.

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post #33 of 306
The comparison with the Pentagon is certainly apt, but Hawthorne gets extra credit for exposing the oxymoron of a "green" building which requires hundreds of thousands of car trips annually. Not surprisingly, the renderings of the main structure feel just like a car ad: the lone gleaming vehicle soaring unobstructed through a gorgeous fantasy landscape. We simply don't want to see the product in its actual context of dirt, frustration, waste, poison, injury, and death.

Apple's new campus will be the transparent iris of a vast bloodshot eye, every capillary of which will be choked with cars, the pupil of which will remain perfectly vacant.

All in all, the article is a remarkably mild criticism of what's really a tragically missed opportunity. There are no significant limitations on what Apple could create at this point in time, but will they build the Bilbao Guggenheim? No - they've settled instead for a sad, nostalgic reference to the space age that never was, surrounded by a traffic jam - the ultimate suburban cliché.
post #34 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlayer View Post

If you grew up in or around Cupertino you'd know a few things right off the bat: the area is almost entirely car-driven, and there is no "downtown" to speak of. There's no subway, light rail or commuter train. To reach the local train station requires a 15-minute drive to Sunnyvale. There's an older mall which was once innovative but has faded badly with mismanagement. That mall has the only thing resembling a transit hub and that only serves buses. If a transit -oriented development were suitable (or even possible) then it might make sense. That anchor or magnet doesn't exist. The critic isn't proposing moving out of Cupertino, but he also isn't taking the historical context into account. At least this is in keeping with the history of the Valley, which has few architectural gems and where office buildings are knocked down everyday to make room for new ones. It's not a place for a grand, phallic tower. With a few exceptions, it's a place of understated humility, not Vegas.


Well said sir.



Ps too much tree huggers here like the post above this.
post #35 of 306
I think a lot of this is bit of gun jumping here. This is one design for one building for Apple. Not a universal design for every building Apple plans to design or what Steve feels is going to be the future of design. In face from the talk it sound like this is going to be the only "Space ship" ( I could be wrong though). So don't expect to see ships in every city.

Also the basic right angle design of buildings is often used because of the easy grid system used in city planning. They are not building a city they are building a single building. I have worked in hotels for years some very unique shapes, (one under water) and I can tell you from real experience, not sitting playing with a design program, not going to design meetings, not walking through the building once and then never seeing it again, but real every day working in these environment. I have also worked in many a square building. I always found the odd shapes to be more relaxing and inviting then the basic squares. The circle is your friend.

Now this is just opinion and there are not any theories to back up my claims, just the thoughts of someone who like the "space ship".
post #36 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlayer View Post

If you grew up in or around Cupertino you'd know a few things right off the bat: the area is almost entirely car-driven, and there is no "downtown" to speak of. There's no subway, light rail or commuter train. To reach the local train station requires a 15-minute drive to Sunnyvale. There's an older mall which was once innovative but has faded badly with mismanagement. That mall has the only thing resembling a transit hub and that only serves buses. If a transit -oriented development were suitable (or even possible) then it might make sense. That anchor or magnet doesn't exist. The critic isn't proposing moving out of Cupertino, but he also isn't taking the historical context into account. At least this is in keeping with the history of the Valley, which has few architectural gems and where office buildings are knocked down everyday to make room for new ones. It's not a place for a grand, phallic tower. With a few exceptions, it's a place of understated humility, not Vegas.

Correct.

It's not Apple's fault that mass transit doesn't make Cupertino a major destination. It's a largely bedroom community like Saratoga, car-focused because it used to be farmland and far away from the legacy SF-San Jose Caltrain transit corridor. And apart from Apple, there's really nothing else commercially noteworthy in the Cupertino-Saratoga area.

The proposed campus is appropriate for what this community can offer, what the infrastructure would support.
post #37 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by photoshop59 View Post

I would not want to work in a circular environment like that.

What? you can't work well because you're on a curved building?
You: Oh my, I'm on a circular building! I can't think well!

Quote:
Originally Posted by photoshop59 View Post

There is a reason that most of our architecture is right angled, and logical.

Just because it's easy to build? Just because it's easy to place your furnitures, things, etc?

You just think too much lol
post #38 of 306
What a prick. Did anyone actually ask for his two-bit opinion? That idiot would have raised hell over the erection of King Tut's tomb and said that a sand mound a simple headstone was all that was needed. I think that circular headquarters is very attractive and possibly an early design by one of the Ringworld Engineers.
post #39 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

The issue is, most Architectural theorist are also clueless about human interaction, personalities and psychology. We do not want to live with 200,000 other people in a 1 square mile area.

Don't forget the architects, they're often just as clueless if not more so. It's an 'Emperor's New Clothes' culture, where they prop each other up by referencing each other's pompous theories, which are usually based on a silly ideal rather than a practical principles. That works fine with modern art, which has tragically become mostly theoretical. But the difference is I only have to suffer contemplating a poorly contrived composite piece when I go to a museum, whereas buildings are out there for everyone to see and experience, good or not.

FWIW, I'm not a fan of modernist architecture, mainly for the reasons mentioned above, but I'm a big fan of Apple architecture, which, in my opinion, almost by itself justifies the modernist movement. Simple, austere structures, often reflecting the local environment, which happen to be perfect spaces to display Apple products.
post #40 of 306
This reminds me of the folks that were totally against the construction of the Transamerica Building in San Francisco. They raised a serious hissy-fit.

Those folks, like this clown whining about the spaceship just end up disappearing into obscurity.

Thank goodness we have folks that push design and art to the next level.

Oh, and square, angular buildings are done that way because they are easy (i.e. "cheaper") to build.
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