There were plenty of oohs and aahs at this week’s Cupertino City Council meeting, and it wasn’t just for Steve Jobs, who made a rare public appearance. Jobs came with a purpose: to promote his plans for a new Apple headquarters in the city, on an 180-acre plot north of Interstate 280.
Jobs admitted that the renderings he presented almost looked like a flying saucer after it landed in an open field. The four-story, ring-shaped building, designed to house 12,000 employees (more than 20 percent of the town’s total population), rests in a setting where 80 percent of the total area is used as green space. This includes a courtyard in the center of the building, which cannot be seen from outside. In total, the number of trees in the plot, now estimated at 3,700, will be increased to over 6,000.
That’s a far cry from the sprawling parking lots that currently occupy the site. The cars, explained Jobs, will be kept in underground parking facilities and a four-story parking structure. Employees will also be able to take advantage of the company’s bus fleet, which operates on bio-diesel.
Other features of the site are its reduced energy footprint. Apple plans to generate its own power there, using natural gas. The building will be hooked up to the electrical grid, but only as a backup option.
The new building would also be an employment booster for Cupertino. The company now has 2,600 people working in its corporate headquarters, while the 3.1 million square foot new building has room for almost five times that many. Certainly some will be moved in from other locations, but Jobs said that Apple does intend to expand its workforce by 20 percent over the next few years.
While Apple is unquestionably the largest source of revenue for Cupertino, even Jobs admitted that he would like to get out of paying municipal taxes. “If we can get out of paying taxes,” he quipped, “we would be glad to provide free Wi-Fi.”
Jobs is eager to get things started early next year and to have the company move into the campus in 2015. But that all depends on whether City Council approves the proposal. “There’s no chance we’ll say no,” says Mayor Gilbert Wong, “This won’t be overnight, but we’re ready to do whatever it takes to bring in more staff to make sure everything is on track and on time.”
What they will end up with is what Jobs described as, “the best office building in the world.” He believes that the unique design will draw architectural students from all over the world, and even a few tourists, eager to see the new landmark. Most of them will respond the same way that Cupertino Councilmember Orrin Mahoney did: with an audible “Wow!”