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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 305
    Well, this should ruffle a few feathers here.
  • Reply 2 of 305
    An uninteresting opinion without basis, that guarantees immediate attention at the expense of future respect.



    ken
  • Reply 3 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 305
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 305
    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
  • Reply 8 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 305
    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 Samsung prior to the introduction of the iPad.
  • Reply 13 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 305
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,193member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 305
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 305
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
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