Steve Jobs’ Mega Mothership Shows Building Planning Is Broken [Opinion]



This is a guest post by Adel Zakout, CEO and co-founder of, a crowd-sourced architecture portal for building geeks.

The video of Steve Jobs presenting Apple’s plans to build a new “mothership” in Cupertino to the local council was absolutely hilarious! Not just because of the absurd questions the councillors asked but their obvious lack of professionalism, understanding of architecture and ridiculous fanboy-ism.

We love Apple too – but think that the planning process is really broken. The fact that Steve can clearly threaten to move his tax dollars elsewhere if the new campus doesn’t get approved shows that.


Buildings are a huge part of our everyday lives; we live, work, eat, play and sleep in them yet we are not involved in their design process whatsoever.

Good architecture has the ability to make us happy; but decisions about our communities are made behind closed doors, by people who are rarely qualified to do so. We have very little say in what gets built or not – and things like tax dollars and politics cloud judgement over the official decision making process.

At OpenBuildings, we think that construction industry needs to made transparent and democratic – and we’re working to do just that. We believe that:

– We need to be involved in planning our local areas. To be able to take part in an open process of deciding what types of buildings, spaces and community projects are planned, that ultimately affect our everyday lives. The proposal for Apple’s new campus is one shrouded in secrecy – the Architect is still-to-be announced and, whilst I’m sure Steve’s intentions are great, the community didn’t seem to be involved in the decision-making process behind the building.

– We need strong incentives to promote good architecture that is sustainable, thoughtful and considerate. Quality over quantity, to create lasting environments for our children. The mothership seems to be architecturally interesting and will definitely stand out in Cupertino (based on a couple of renders) although I would question how considerate it is to its local history and surroundings. Yes, the increase of green space and the fact that it is a low-rise building is thoughtful – but, architecturally, this building could be located in London, Beijing or Dubai. It doesn’t seem to have any specific contextual link.

– We need to have easy and structured methods to democratically make our voice heard about building proposals in our areas. Steve’s presentation was the exact opposite; the council made it clear that they were going with this proposal, even before Apple had submitted an application for a building permit. What about the thoughts and concerns of the local residents – whether positive or negative?

– Developers and Architects need to also be able to engage with the local community when thinking about buildings in order to manage their process more transparently. It’s difficult to say whether this happened or not, due to the hush-hush process behind the design of the building. Rumor has it that British Architecture firm Foster & Partners is behind the design; I doubt that much community consultation took place.

At, our ambition is to fix the process of planning buildings with OpenBuildings Local, a new community section of our site that is coming soon. is a community-driven directory of historic, contemporary and conceptual buildings from across the globe. Our ambition is to democratize the built environment by making information about buildings, from design through construction, more open; to connect the construction industry digitally and champion an open approach to architecture. We want to engage with local communities about buildings in their area, inform enthusiast or tourists about interesting architecture and empower industry professionals by allowing them to find new business. We recently announced $2million in funding from BlueRunVentures and Index Ventures and are working to disrupt an industry that is currently in the technological dark ages.

Explore our 40K+ buildings on or via our iPhone application “Buildings.” Android app coming soon!

  • prof_peabody

    (Strongly) disagree with this except the part about “encouraging good architecture.”  Everywhere I’ve ever lived that the community had significant input and involvement in architectural planning was a complete freaking disaster.  

    A good example of that is the participation of local councils in the UK (especially England), in deciding the “look’ of a building or how it fits into the local architecture etc. It generally becomes a nightmare of small-minded opinions and rigid quasi-fascist ‘rules’ that help no one and generally discourage building anything at all. 

    Not to pick on the UK, the same thing happens in new England in the US where they have similar laws.  Good in theory, but in practice, not so much IMO.  

  • davidk

    Why shouldn’t Apple be able to build what it likes on the land it owns?  Why should they have to get the approval of everyone and their mother?  As long as they follow whatever local building ordinances are in place you and I should get no say in it, the same way Apple should get no say in how I build my house.

    And to the people at Cult of Mac who approved this, shame on you, this isn’t an opinion piece, its an ideological diatribe and advertisement for this guys website thats only tangentially related to Apple’s new building.

  • Chris Kahrhoff

    Who the F are you?
    Its not your F’ing land, its not the city’s F’ing land! The fact that Apple and Steve or anyone for that matter has to ask anybody anything about what to build on the land they F’ing own is so F’ing un-American its disgusting.

  • David Renner

    Considering the nightmare Steve was put through with his own private property, I guess I understand. Some old things are good some just repetitious and boring. Often oddities become a point of local pride. Who is to say what’s good. I think a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work was and still is criticized. Who knows and who is to judge ( the owner, architects or public).

  • SG

    I agree with everyone above, and moreover, what you’re suggesting is that architecture and planning should be under the purview of some kind of committee. We all know how efficient those are. If Apple’s new campus were as ‘open to discussion’ as you suggest, it would be lucky to get completed by 2020.

    Maybe you’re right for Government buildings that are paid for with tax dollars (and which are often ugly), but in the case of Apple, I have no doubt they will come up with one of the best buildings to work in.

  • TheMacAdvocate

    I don’t feel qualified to have input into the the designs of Apple’s products. I have no idea what Apple’s planning objectives are for the building they’re proposing. I suspect the decision-makers in Cupertino are comfortable having Steve and Co. make those decisions for themselves.

    What I *have* been a part of are “community planning” projects that added inordinate expense and altered program goals through their ridiculous demands because the “community” wielded so much influence. If I were Steve, I’d be swinging the economic impact hammer as frequently – and as gently – as I could. 

  • iHate_Is_Back

    This seems more like a plug piece for the authors site then a real article. I don’t get what this guys problem is and what he has against this new building. Like so many others Apple could have easily chosen to keep their money in their wallets and built a simple square building that’s an eyesore with no aesthetic value whatsoever to its surroundings. Instead they chose to shell out the extra money and actually construct a building that’s artistically pleasing to the eye and has a positive environmental impact. They could have saved huge amounts of money alone by choosing to keep the current asphalt parking lots but instead they chose to nearly double the tree’s on the property and shell out the huge bucks in constructing an underground parking facility and drive in multistory car park. I’ve had enough to say about Apple and their short comings but even I have to admit Jobs vision for a new Apple campus is beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to work in an artistically pleasing constructed building with a huge cafeteria, your own parking stall and to cap it all off a huge relaxing park like setting that soothes the soul. The rest of us can only wish we were lucky enough to work in such a physically pleasing environment.

    Explain yourself dude whats the problem here?

  • steven

    This is kind of a terrible opinion post, and it really just reads like one long advertisement for this guy’s website. Yuck.

  • Bob Reed

    So Jobs comes up with a plan for a building that houses a lot of people, increases green space (and the number of trees), eliminates soulless office rectangles and cuts down on ugly blacktop, and the author is complaining?  

  • Anthony fuck you


  • Anthony fuck you


  • Greg_in_Dallas

    A bunch of nitties who has gotten their girdle in a pinch because they don’t like
    what a private landowner has built on their own land.  Other than safety, public access, and
    environmental impact, government can butt out.

  • Eric Harrington

    Yikes.  I guess your favorite book was “it takes a village” as well.

    I don’t even know where to begin with this mess.  I’ll keep it brief and say I 100% disagree.I love the news about Apple on this site but another article or two like this and I’m out.

  • zazou1

    Is OpenBuildings unionized?

  • Andrew Mayne

    It’s their property. If Cupertino doesn’t like it, vote to rezone. End of story. 

  • Kuhnaydeein

    That building was going to be built wether he mentioned the consequences of moving out or not. His tax dollars are a very big part of the economy, and the fact is they would be out cash if Apple left. Any company with that land wanting to build an office would be permitted to do so.

  • steven

    Okay, now that I think a little more on it, it’s pretty clear this “guest writer” saw an opportunity to jump on a big news story that had something to do with architecture so that he could promote his site.

    I don’t exactly blame him for trying, but I do sort of blame Cult of Mac for letting him.

  • cleversoap

    “…and are working to disrupt an industry that is currently in the technological dark ages.”
    I’m sorry, what? To me this looks like one of the most technologically advanced structures ever conceived. This article is full of buzzwords like “engaging with the community” and other such tripe. It’s private property.

    “the community didn’t seem to be involved in the decision-making process behind the building.”

    What if the “community” came to your new house and told you to paint it bright pink with green polka dots? Hey, I know, let’s form a committee! Because more bureaucracy is better and we’ll be sure to get everyone’s opinion. What’s next? The “community” tells you that you can’t use that architect because they cut in front of the chairman in the bread line?

    “although I would question how considerate it is to its local history and surroundings. “You do know that local history is literally all about Apple anyways. But hey, let’s ask some of the proposed buildings neighbours. Somebody stick a mirror in front of Steve Jobs so he can talk to himself!

    I know this is a guest post but quite frankly this is so far to the left that it’s frightening that it would even show up on what has become my favourite iBlog. Glad all the other commenters are able to see through this self-righteous excrement of an opinion.Your friend is a douche, Leander.

  • kcopen

    this post is reads more like an advertisement then a commentary. which makes me wonder if it actually is. Did they pay Cult of Mac to post this article?

  • baleara

    This is thoughtful, though I can’t say I agree with everything in it.  There is something to be said for building in a way that is respectful to the culture of an area (“The mothership seems to be architecturally interesting and will
    definitely stand out in Cupertino (based on a couple of renders)
    although I would question how considerate it is to its local history and
    surroundings.”) but what about building in a way that CREATES culture? Should the building blend in to surrounding Cupertino, or should it move the area forward toward something new?

  • Jeff.L

    If that mindset were prevalent in this part of the world, there would be no Apple Corporation.

  • minimalist1969

    If the building is built on private land with private funds and meets existing building codes and zoning ordinances (which it likely does given that this on the site of an existing office park complex) then I don’t see how “the community” has any legal say in the design of the siting or the building.   

    The way a community can affect design is by codifying their wishes about building setbacks, footprint to site ratios, green space requirements into local zoning ordinances.   Beyond that, its none of their business.   If a community becomes oppressive in their ordinances (think Santa Barbara) then businesses are certainly within let the community know why they are relocating.

  • Mauro Francis

    Am I the only one here who was getting a bit annoyed by the asian guy getting all fan-boyish… Mentioning his “little girl loves it”. Steve seemed so unimpressed LOL. No one cares dude…

  • John Taylor33

    I think the people from need to get a life!!!

  • freediverx

    While I generally agree with the author’s comments in principle, I find some of his points rather pedantic and ridiculous. To say the proposed building is inconsiderate to the town’s local history and surroundings is laughable considering it will replace acres of asphalt and drab buildings with a work or architectural art surrounded by extensive, lush landscaping. This sort of idiocy does not  exactly help the author’s cause.

  • DavidEsrati

    I grew up in a house that was put on the National Register. Unfortunately- the city council stuck their fingers in- with no understanding of what the architect was trying to do, and screwed up the design- which was still amazing.
    I don’t want elected idiots playing big brother – telling me what my house should look like. And, I don’t want the community to do it either-
    This whole “open architecture” rant makes me slightly ill.
    The proposed building looks like somewhere I’d like to work. The City Council- makes me question if that’s the best the people of Cupertino can do.

  • LTMP

    I’m with you completely, although I don’t think Steve was too gentle with the economic impact hammer.

  • Ricardo Ferreira

    “We love Apple too – but think that the planning process is really broken. The fact that Steve can clearly threaten to move his tax dollars elsewhere if the new campus doesn’t get approved shows that.” 
    This is how the big boys play. Your view of what a CEO is must be incredibly naive.

    “What about the thoughts and concerns of the local residents”

    Let me get this straight. We are talking about a guy that creates products by IMPOSING a righteous way of thinking on the public – an entire OS, the way things work in an ecosystem, no flash on iOS, etc, etc. Do you think he cares if the public is against this building? Steve Jobs thinks he knows what’s best for people, regardless of what they think. You back up this ethos, remember?

  • NewborunFugur

    I wonder how residents would feel if their town/city lost tons of tax dollars just because a few outspoken people (because most people would not care and not voice an opinion) bucked the building design and Apple decided to build else were. 

    Just think of the hit public safety, education and other local services would suffer with the loss of revenue. Besides the tax from the company the employees bring income to the surrounding business by way of gas stations, food, entertainment, and so on. 

    The minority will stir the pot and and when Apple pulls out the masses will suffer the result. Knowing how Apple is they would sooner pull out then give in, I see some of the points made by this article and it may work with some building owners/developers but I do not see Apple as being one of them. Aside from that the article reads more like a rant of a fanatic not a major issue.

  • Jeff.L

    It made me cringe in embarrassment.

  • Peter

    It’s a plug – I mean don’t most of you realise most blogs are really a form of marketing? Do you think you’re being served ‘news’ all the time? Contributors are doing their thing for ‘free’?

    Some of the responses are frankly lunacy. I don’t know if I agree or disagree or if the ‘mothership’ is good architecture or not. It might just be one big vanity project with zero merit. That value judgement rarely comes from the person that builds it. Often it’s the people that have to use it that confer the opinion. Some of the most loved buildings at MIT are wooden sheds from the 40s and not the new shiny buildings by Gehry or IM Pei – mainly because they empower the user. They don’t have to look all amazing. 

    Peabody’s comment is interesting, but generally I’ve found developers have the upper hand over LA’s – just look at poor Plymouth with a shopping centre granted planning permission in the 90’s that got built in the 21st century. The resulting building is a turkey of an outdated design, because the developer didn’t bother to re-submit a new design. Heritage architecture in the UK is down to architects being absent from housing – many are just built using a modular system of elements. The results are terrible and only have a 20 year guarantee. 

    Housing where people are actually consulted about what they want would be nice.

    In the end, being interested in your built environment is part of community and public life. Councils have to block or approve designs. Playing the it’s my land, I build what I want card doesn’t really wash. It’s not a black and white world. 

    Whether this site is any good, or if it’s ideas are applicable everywhere the jury is out? I think the idea of local architecture is a good idea – who wants buildings to look the same or look like they could have been built anywhere. Modern buildings can lack the detailing and dialogue with other buildings that brings identity and a sense of place. 

    RE: Frank Lloyd Wright – when asked why the roof leaked he famously replied ‘that’s how you know it’s a roof’. He’s another example of how beautiful buildings can also be complete failures. 

  • Higuma

    What a bunch of BS grandstanding by someone who would never show up on ANYBODY’S radar unless he picks a fight with the likes of Apple and Jobs…

    It is COMPLETELY UN-EXTRAORDINARY and respectful btw for a corporation to take the time to formally introduce it’s plans for a project at it’s infancy to the official Town Council to INFORM them that they are “commencing to work with city officials and inspectors to start approval procedures with a new building project”  –  let alone one as tremendously important to communities like Cupertino… 

    And the protagonist in this case ( as a supposed professional ) SHOULD ( DOES ) know this full well but is instead just trying to get a little traction for his “Cause du Jour” at Jobs / Apples expense…

    The fact that steve pointed out that “What was in it for Cupertino” ( a question posed to him by council ) was a substantial property & ( potentially ) personal tax base increase is in no way a detriment to his intentions…

    The fact that he also took the time to point out that if Apple were to have to expand outside of the Cupertino limits it would negitively effect the tax base could be viewed by some people as a threat – but every business person I know would call this smart – realistic business practice… Cupertino asked the question “what’s in it for them” Steve just replied to both sides of the question – what’s in it for them from the approval & disapproval aspects… 

    Adel Zakout should take his drivel elsewhere – Apple should have consulted local architects ???” – you have GOT to be joking – back to your Quiky-Mart remodels with you and your ilk………….

    Cult of Mac – you guys don’t need to publish self serving drivel from guys like this – unless you are going the sensational journalism / commentary drives up the hit counter route now ???

  • Stan Winstone

    WTF was that liberal clap trap. You want to PAY to help construct a building? Then STFU!

  • site7000

    If I get the drift here, the author wants a builder to be required to get a permit in order to plan a building and agree to allow a self-appointed “community” of people who have nothing better to do with their time than meddle in other people’s affairs assume control of what kind of project the builder could present for approval. This “community” would have zero accountability or responsibility, but have a veto over those who did. This has been tried. It’s called a commune. With rare exceptions having mainly to do with individual leadership, communes have been an utter failure. I’m sure both remaining communes will vigorously contest this characterization, but it’s true. And before you label me, you ought to know I vote often and exclusively Democratic. I believe in a pretty substantial role for government, but this is just navel-gazing narcissism.

  • site7000

    Besides, it’s going to be a great walled garden.

  • Lecorsaire

    Who the hell posted such a retarded article here?  The whole piece is a cheap advertisement of this .com that nobody has heard of.  Whoever posted this should have his/her brain checked.

  • lwdesign1

    This idea that everyone has to approve and have a say in every building that goes up is ridiculous. It pushes “politically correct” to the horrendously awful breaking point. In every community there are laws governing building heights, pollution emissions, greenspace, usage, traffic flows, etc. A developer and/or business has the right to build within those codes and laws, unless there are specific concerns from members of the community. Plans are posted and concerned citizens can comment or petition city councils if they strongly disagree. This is standard in cities across the US.

    I think it’s a HORRIBLE idea to open up architecture to the democratic process beyond these normal laws, codes and routines. “Rule by committee” rarely works, and when used it tends to be painfully slow, expensive and fraught with controversy, in-fighting and tons of petty vested interests. Personal choice and the freedom of the individual and the individual company should not be mired in the “everyone gets a say” process Kahney is pushing in his article. As long as a business works within the city’s laws, codes, guidelines and approval processes, let ’em build what they want–unless there’s some obvious health or other concern that will negatively affect the community as a whole–but there are already those rules and laws in place to prevent that!

    Apple’s new building introduces parkland into the city, and they should be applauded for this, for changing an asphalt parking lot and a hodgepodge of not particularly attractive commercial buildings into a green oasis that powers itself. This is the epitome of green design and community consciousness, yet Kahney wants to introduce everyone’s 2 cents. I could understand if this was a slaughter house, pig farm, oil refinery or chemical waste treatment plant. This plan is socialism at its worst.

  • Dave Abrams

    So if your neighbor wanted to turn his home into a 24-hour liquor store, you’d fully support that? Otherwise, you’d be unpatriotic, right?

    I’m not defending the article in any way, but some regulations to exist for a reason.

  • Lecorsaire

    Hell yeah you are right!

  • Alex Stewart

    I hear a small rumor they’ll incorporate some sort of solar panel technology into the glass, or at least apply solar panels on the roof. That in itself would be a good idea.

  • lwdesign1

    By the way, we still live in a free society. Steve has the right to build anywhere he wants. If the Cupertino city council has unreasonable demands (free WiFi?–get serious!) he can take his business elsewhere. What’s wrong with this? Kahney’s “everybody gets a say” smacks of the worst parts of rampant socialism and the death of great ideas. The city council members seemed like rank amateurs. Imagine having the general population of even ranker amateurs all wanting their say! Maybe if Steve bought everyone a pony…

  • obamapacman

    Exactly. Example of design by committee:
    “Redesigning the Stop sign”

  • Someone who cares

    Complete and utter specious reasoning on the part of OpenBuildings.

  • imajoebob

    This thing is a mess.  It’s style is horribly out of place – and maybe just horrible, but more importantly than anything else, it doesn’t achieve the supposed goal of building it: bringing the company together under one roof.  (Just as bad, it’s obviously designed to be self-contained, so it completely cuts out the actual community of Cupertino, so why bother building there in the first place?  Just build it in the middle of the desert like some high tech Jonestown.)

    Sure, technically that’s one (big ass) roof.  But is the guy with the office on the 2nd floor at 12 O’Clock really in the same building as the guy on the 4th floor at 5?  To get from here to there you’ll have to go outside the building and take a shuttle bus 3 or 4 stops, hop out, go back in, then make sure you turn clockwise at the small atrium, or you’ll end up going 10 minutes out of your way.  Or, if it’s actually a nice day, you’ll cut through the middle of the faux primordial forest, past the 3 coffee carts, two sandwich wagons and the ice cream counter and hope that you were supposed to follow the Newton path to the Woz gate, not the Woz path to the Ive gate.  No matter which way you take you’ve just burned 20 minutes of productivity to get to a meeting IN YOUR OWN BUILDING.

    Steve (may I call you Steve?), you’ve travelled the world.  This is like the difference between getting to your gate at DeGaulle and getting to your gate at Heathrow (the older terminals).  Yes, there was a lot of confusion at first making sure you were heading in the right direction at CDG.  But at Heathrow they gave you explicit, easy to understand directions.  Which took you past every single gate in the airport on a circumferential trek that took longer than an A.I./Inception double feature.  You could have walked to LaGuardia in less time.  

    Consider the 12,000 or so people working here.  How many of them will be going to meetings every day?  How many will have to travel an extra 10 minutes because of the design of this building?  What is that in lost man hours of productivity?  Is this really worth the Ego-Value of this monstrosity?

  • blurbasaurus

    To: Adel Zakout. From: A Berkeley Architect Graduate.

    To your first point, I can agree to the extent that City Planning meetings are there for the review of building code and zoning compliance. Further, Planning Meetings are pre-announced and are open to the public for review and criticism. However, every community has different standards of what is required and how rigorous the planning meetings can be. Take Carmel, CA for example. The zoning restrictions can be considered onerous but they are there to preserve architectural heritage which the City identifies closely with tourism. Cupertino will not and frankly should not abide by the same rules. Different city, different culture, different rules. One might argue that Cupertino’s “free-wheeling” style judging from the diverse architecture is part of the cities identity. As to the planning commission pandering to Steve Jobs and accepting the proposal without dissent… This is certainly distasteful. If you want to fight it though, you need to fight the root cause for why all large projects in any city and county is “catered” to and that is politics born out of economics. Read: JOBS. And to that point, you can conceivably argue that the architectural “heritage” of every industrial town in america was born out of the vision of architects hired by the most powerful local business-men in any era.

    Your 2nd point is a mix of the ecological architecture movement, new urbanism movement, and the build local movements. Good green architecture must always contend with local weather and celestial movements. But, new urbanism and building local movements are popular ideologies of the current crop of urban planners and architects who are basically reacting to the International Modernism that took hold in the 50’s through the 80’s. Unfortunately, modern architects can see and be influenced by ideas the world over and as such, buildings today will always have a look that is being copied everywhere based on popular ideas. You can try to build local today but it won’t be quite in the same vein as 19th century architects building local (for a number of reasons). There is a lot more here we can talk about but I’ll stop at this point.

    Third point. We DO have democratic, structured process. It’s called a city planning meeting. Apple will have to deal with many more city planning meetings AND without the benefit of a VIP during the process. A large profile project such as Apples will get undue scrutiny from a lot of people and if Apple can convince all involved as to the merits of the building design, there won’t be much to complain about will there?

    The 4th point about community engagement is lofty and I see that as you RE-underscoring your plea for the idea of local architecture. For better or for worse, that community engagement that you and many others want comes down, again, to the city planning meetings. Because these are REQUIRED to obtain a permit, all architecture firms build the necessary costs into there proposals to clients. However, absolutely ZERO firms will build ADDITIONAL costs into their RFP responses as that will only help them lose the potential job. This is an idea that needs to be pushed either to the clients or into City governments through popular measures. Clients will likely not engage this practice unless someone can show them how it will affect the bottom line and Cities will not engage the cost of doing so unless there is a general clamor for the practice of it.

    Again, I would point to the fact that many cities engage in very rigorous planning practices if the effort is seen as a way to protect existing architectural heritage vis-a-vis in maintaining or creating a local tourist attraction. However, not all cities should do so or need to as such.

  • blurbasaurus

    And this point to is valid and one I didn’t touch on in my (long-winded) response above. Generally speaking design by committee generally SUCKS. Better to present a singular vision and give the locals a chance to react within reasonable guidelines. Better still, choose your architectural battles in Cities that are receptive to new design ideas.

  • Brandon Olsen

    How much did Mr. Zakout pay for a full-page advertisement on your site, Mr. Kahney? Could you at least have disabled RSS publishing for this article?

  • Jose Gutierrez

    So in the writer’s opinion, it’s “broken” because it doesn’t fit his A&E ideology, not because it’s not structurally sound?

  • Chris Chapin

    This article is stupid. Please post information that is informative. This is someone whining about how they don’t like the way a process is going somewhere in the world. If I want to hear that, I turn on the news.

  • Carlos Francisco Suarez Doriga

    Really hilarious!!!!!!!!!

  • shawnlime

    I think what was presented that day is not a comprehensive view of the entire building project. Rather, it was just a feel and a general idea presented. Of course when the final building plans are submitted, it would include all the details including transport, sustainability, etc. But from the video, with the energy center and 80% landscaping, it’s a pretty good start.

  • Artstudentone

    What an idiot commentary!

    You own (temporarily rent/occupy/reside) on a piece of the earth for as long as you live/own/reside and work within the current law or change the law (democracy) then build what ever you want!

    Who wanted the paved parking lots, apartment complexes for the welfare crowd in the back yard!

    Build on Apple!

  • JB

    Let’s just get rid of the rule of law and have everyone raise their hands if they like something.

  • Ray

    what the fuck ? is this a new author ?

  • Cody

    Um, since Apple paid for the property, and since Apple is paying to have the building built, I don’t really see how anyone else other than Apple should have any say on what the building looks like or anything. I understand Apple going to the city to inform them of the large construction project, especially for the permits, etc. that would be needed, but I don’t think that the people should have any say on building design unless tax dollars are being used to build the structure. This article sounds almost as stupid as the council woman who asked for free wifi for the city from Steve Jobs.

  • Artstudentone

    You know, I thought for a me and why not think in the reverse, use this to change the face of Cupertino? Have the “Mother Ship” design radiate out, change the butt ugly old building and endless expanse of pavement! Oh, the damn apartment complex in the corner is just holding out for more money when they found out Apple had bought additional property. Pigs…

  • narendranag

    This post reminds me of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead. More specifically, it reminds me of the architects who opposed Howard Roark’s heretic designs since they didn’t include the sort of features that the others were including in their own buildings (think Grecian columns).Zakout

    Let me quote Mr Zakout and address each of his points:

    “To be able to take part in an open process of deciding what types of buildings, spaces and community projects are planned, that ultimately affect our everyday lives.”

    How exactly does the Apple campus, or any company’s campus affect the everyday lives of the people who live in the area but don’t work there? 

    The biggest Effect? Traffic: A large campus housing a lot of people will result in more commuters. That was a question that was asked and addressed — the current offices there have 9,500 people working, and therefore, commuting to and fro.

    However, Mr Zakout goes further. For some reason he believes “the community didn’t seem to be involved in the decision-making process behind the building.”

    How exactly does he want the community to be involved — help Steve buy the land, or pay for the architects so they can be part of briefing and review meetings, or perhaps become architects themselves …

    “although I would question how considerate it is to its local history and surroundings. Yes, the increase of green space and the fact that it is a low-rise building is thoughtful – but, architecturally, this building could be located in London, Beijing or Dubai. It doesn’t seem to have any specific contextual link.”

    Correct me if I am wrong but that reads to me like the author is suggesting that every locality has an architectural style that needs to be preserved, and copied ad nauseum.

    Also, buildings aren’t located anywhere architecturally, they are located in places physically. So, this building, whatever you may think of it is NOT located in London, Beijing or Dubai — this is, at best, a specious argument.

    “What about the thoughts and concerns of the local residents – whether positive or negative?”

    Ah, Mr Zakout, how nice of you to take up cudgels on behalf of the local residents. It’s so easy to get free publicity when you become a champion for the poor, the needy, the downtrodden. How about we wait for the meeting where the building permissions will be discussed, and any objections that the town may have will be aired.

    “Developers and Architects need to also be able to engage with the local community when thinking about buildings in order to manage their process more transparently.”

    In other words, Mr Zakout, developers, architects, steve jobs, and the town of Cupertino needs to sign up on your website. This last point is perhaps the most vulgar of the lot.

    I have a day job heading one of India’s leading social media agencies. I have built tools enabling crowd-sourced ideation that are being used by fairly interesting people in interesting ways. But, I also have the good fortune of a childhood that include reading Orwell and Huxley. 

    What Mr Zakout suggests is not a crowdsourced alternative, he is pushing for groupthink. He seems to believe a collective intelligence can design a better building that an individual expert. Leave architecture to the architects Mr Zakout, and let the good folks of Cupertino fight their own battles.

  • 5imo

    you are right. but its still apple news and cult of mac will publish whatever they can find.

  • To The Mothership!

    I don’t think anyone should have a say in how a company can build a building on land it owns I can see some safety laws but if apple wants to build a huge ring and put 12,000 people in it then more power to them if i want to build a triangle that hold 4 people then i should be able, this should be a free country and as long as the building will be safe then go for it!

  • netnerd258

    Too many cooks in the kitchen usually is not be such a good idea, not too many but just enough is good, but too many and people with conflicting viewpoints, focus will be lost, or maybe worst, start focusing on useless arguments and ego instead of building something.

  • kavok

    I think it’s a great building and only Apple would have the ability to build anything like it.  

    As for getting to meetings, I’m betting that they will be using video conferencing. They are a technology company after all.  If there really is a need to meet in person, they will have some kind of transportation inside the building to get around.  The airport in Dallas/Ft. Worth is another large circular building and people get around just fine every day.

    I only hope that they offer tours once in a while so people on the outside can have a chance to experience it in person.

  • Fred

    This article is basically an advertisement which makes no sense what so ever. Do you honestly think letting the community, in which theres always some insane person that HAS to get their way – is a good idea?The Author and organization seriously needs to reevaluate what they are trying to do, because it is not achievable.

    Cult of Mac, you should be ashamed of publishing this ad. It seriously makes me think why I visit this website. Not impressed.

  • devunish

    How is that a threat.   If this doesnt happen Apple would have to leave they need the space.

  • Honyant

    Although I don’t agree with the article I find it less objectionable than your post.

  • CharliK

    This is NOT a community building. It is an Apple, restricted use site. All that Apple owes the community is to ensure them that it won’t have a negative impact on traffic, power etc. And from what I have read, Jobs has covered that.

    We don’t know the background in terms of whether Apple has talked to the folks that will be using the building or not so we can’t say if the actual community for this building had this shoved on them or not

  • Morshu

    He needs to cut that s*it out. He looks like a kook-aid drinking fool. And this is coming from a apple fanboy.
    He makes the rest of us look bad.

  • CharliK

    I can get with the notion of staying within the feel of an area, if this was an Apple Store. It’s all about respecting the community. But this is  basically a gated area issue. The Public won’t be in this building or the area around it. So who cares. 

  • CharliK

    The actual community of Cupertino wouldn’t be allowed in this area any more than they are in the current campus. So what difference does it make to them.

    As for the folks actually using the building, we have no idea what talks they have had, what opinions they gave etc. For all we know they are 100% behind this design that you, who will never be inside said building, thinks is so crappy. 

  • Chewan

    I’m architect too. It seems that Open Building don’t understand the concept. Why its ring concept. Because its about movement while keeping the view focus towards internal huge courtyard.

    At the same time Apple will install the hybrid personal transporter same as Masdar City. Its low rise, more green and a landmark for Cupertino. So why not?

  • CharliK

    Tours are highly unlikely since they loathe even employees seeing more than they should. There’s little to nothing that the public could see. The most they might have is that shop where you can get the Apple tee shirts and mugs and such and perhaps a little theatre with a ‘History of Apple’ movie loop.

    And of course perhaps a new Town Hall for when they actually want to do a Keynote in front of local media. Then again by then they might just post videos and screw the media out of a trip to Cali. 

  • AdamTro

    This is pure collectivist trash. Apple owns the land and is footing the bill for the new building. There is such a thing as private property in the US. If the public “had their say” in every building built on private property costs would skyrocket and nothing would get done.

  • Kimberly North

    seen such unfriendly aggregation. I see it all the way to the end. Book them

     Safety and Health
    Christian hip hop Artists

  • AdamTro

    The city council would have to approve the change of zoning from residential to commercial. In the example you posed, that would be unlikely.

  • atimoshenko

    This is just so wrong on so many levels. First, the extent to which private actions ought to be circumscribed by the community is the extent to which those actions directly affect the community. In other words, no bringing the power grid down, no dumping of raw sewage into the land next door, no building of skyscrapers in a village.

    Second, one of the recourses against these community controls must ALWAYS be the possibility to leave the community. If the individual and the community disagree, the individual ought to be free to seek another community.

    Finally, democracy is not about everyone getting a say on everything all of the time. Look to the wonderful functioning of the US government to see the excesses of going too far in that direction. Rather, a good representative democracy would rest on two ideas. First, absolute, after-the-fact transparency of action, such that people can clearly identify what actions were taken on their behalf, which single individual is to be held responsible for those actions, and what were those actions’ results. Second, to make it easy for people to fire their representatives and difficult for those representatives to defend their own positions against newcomers.

    The problem with dictatorship by individuals is the same problem as the one with dictatorship of the crowd – most of us are mostly stupid (read: fallible), most of the time. The idea then is not to make perfect decisions, but to minimise the ill-effects of bad ones and to reduce the risk of their recurrence.

  • ewenjam

    He should have said,”Here it is with people in it.”

  • Gary

    What part of “private property” doesn’t this organization understand?  Oh yeah, it’s not an American organization, it’s British.  I believe we fought a war to differentiate ourselves from that country, featuring concepts SUCH AS private property, individual liberty, etc.   There’s a reason the founders of this country despised and warned against pure democracy, precisely because it leads to this kind of freedom-sqelching “we should all have a voice in your private business” nonsense.

    Their website comes off as a “database” of buildings.  How harmless.  However, the hostile to private property views posited here by one of their main people lead me so suspect there’s much more driving these folks than a mere collection of architecture facts and figures.  

    How about updating your “about us” tab to tell us what you’re really all about?

  • Freek Monsuur

    -1 for Cult of Mac. A serious blog shouldn’t post this kind of amateurism.

    First of all, Apple deserves praise for such an innovative, environmental friendly and goodlooking peace of architecture.

    Second: the fact that Steve Jobs hints about leaving Cupertino doesn’t make the planning broken. He’s just playing bluff poker before a bunch of unprofessional city officials.

    Third: as an architect I can say that there’s no reason the community should be involved in the planning of a commercial office building. There’s no regulation for that and no common sense reason. Maybe for a government building in the city centre, but not for this building.

  • Carlos André Góes

    Cult of Mac now promotes socialist architectural ideology…

  • FenTiger

    So someone can come and build whatever they like next door to you, and as long as they own the land they can build whatever they want? What’s your address? I want to build a highly polluting chemical plant down your street…

  • matrix07

    Hey, Adel.. just buy the land from Apple and do whatever you want and see, in 50 years, where would get the most intention from architecture students.
    Building is art. And art never be about democratization. Tell that to a great artist, that he has to let you and public get involved before he can create his art and all you’d get is his middle finger or two.
    And by the way, from the mayor press conference there will be public hearing. Adel… chill…

  • matrix07

    attention, not intention. sorry. My hands are too quick.

  • Nemo

    Again another pathetic posting by COM. It should say “This posting brought to you by, another nobody desperately trying to gain recognition by riding on Apple’s coattails.”What was the amount of kickback COM got – can we have the money instead for having to read this drivel?

  • Jaap Steensma

    I’m glad the writer of the article mentioned the childish manor of the counsellors. I actually started laughing when the chairman whipped out his iPad 2. Completely ridiculous. An appalling feat. and they should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Kdx200

    Maybe I am missing something…  a private company (although publicly traded)  Wants to build on it’s OWN LAND. This building meets current standards of green acres and structural height and you have a problem with it.  Stop being a busy body and get to work changing your own world.

  • pst314

    “We love Apple too – but think that the planning process is really
    broken. The fact that Steve can clearly threaten to move his tax dollars
    elsewhere if the new campus doesn’t get approved shows that.”

    Clearly, Leander Kahney wants us to embrace the Gleichschaltung.

  • Christopher Clancy

    Got Stress?

  • Er9

    WTF? And we all know it’s not a slow news day…
    Joe Wilcox call you again last night???

  • RB

    blah, blah, blah!

  • JoshBoulton

    It’s amazing seeing this presentation compared to his WWDC ones. 

  • Chris Kahrhoff

    AdamTro below responds in the correct “socially acceptable” manner.

    I take a different tack, if I want to make sure a liquor store doesn’t open next to my house I buy the land next to my house. Otherwise I understand it’s not mine to control. No matter how much I may not like it, IT ISN’T MINE!
    I understand Dave that I and ONLY I have a right to the products of my mind and labor.  

    AND BEST YET, I fully respect your rights to the same!

    I don’t accept others telling me what I can and cannot put into my body and I don’t accept others telling me what I can do with the property I purchased using the product of my labor (money).

    And I suggest you shouldn’t either.

  • Thomas G B

    David K., I agree completely. For the author to think others don’t plan to build or not based on tax benefits and being allowed to build what they want is pure naivety. And why is the author capitalizing architect?

  • Thomas G B

    Better reread what he wrote. He didn’t say what you had hoped he said so you could present some ridiculous comeback. Hint: The part about local building ordinances in place is key.

  • Chris Rockett

    You are absolutely wrong about business being able to take their tax dollars anywhere.  Our economy is built on free market pressures, the Cupertio economy will benefit greatly from any large business that wants to have it’s headquarters there.  If they don’t like what Apple (or anyone) proposes, they have the right to say no, and the business can take their economic benefits and tax dollars elsewhere, that’s the way it works, and should work in a free market.

    Business and local governments always have deals and agreements that benefit both parties and hopefully the people that the government represents.  If the government is not accurately representing the people’s will, then that’s a whole different problem.

    Lastly, it’s OK to promote a related site in a commentary you write but this is way over the top.  You mentioned your site no less than eleven times in less than a page of content, that’s ridiculous.

  • David

    Agreed that Apple should not have to “get the approval of everyone and their mother”. But there is a little difference between the size and impact of a single house and a “campus” embodied in one, very large single building on the surrounding streets, blocks and neighborhoods.

    Municipal ordinances and codes have not proven to enable better places. They are often about constraints and limits, what one cannot do. This “campus” is not a campus at all. Stanford and UC Berkeley are good examples of campuses. How much more enriching would it be to the whole of Cupertino if Apple actually wanted to build something that an average person can walk up to and experience at the scale of a human being rather than this current “donut” that is envisioned from the sky. Guess I’ll have to learn to fly.

  • Jesper Andersson

    I stopped reading when he tried to do the commercial for his website.

    I can see his point in it, but it will probably look better than those asphalt parking spaces that are there now. I think the building is beautiful. And if Apple didn’t buy it someone else probably would and build some of those ugly cubical office buildings. Let’s just wait and see if anyone will complain.

  • Marcio Morgado

    I agree. Personally I like the building it’s something new. Besides what company hasn’t used it’s tax dollars to pivot decisions in their favor. It’s nothing new and personally don’t blame him. He’s adding landscape and basically trying to make it as eco-friendly as possible, honestly I don’t see the issue here.

  • Bob

    I wanted to put a roll of toilet paper in front of each council member just make sure they didn’t walk out of there with anything still on their noses.

  • John Marshall

    That was the dryest thing I’ve ever read. You should work for City Council.

  • obamapacman

    Building SIZE + ANALYSIS:

  • Bob Forsberg

    I couldn’t finish the rambling idealistic gibberish above, but had to agree with Steve. Since Apple’s the largest tax producer for the city, Steve has every right to drop a few reality checks on the council members. 

    Steve’s presentation was a courtesy call. Those who present and approve the building are Apple’s people & the planning commission. He dropped in to tell the self appointed types like the author of the above article to shut up and keep quiet.

  • Pete

    It’s a million times better than the crap that’s there.

    And who died and made you boss? Do you even live in Cupertino?

  • Pete

    How do you like that? This guy is advocating that every Al Bundy in the neighborhood have a go at it. Who needs a fancy architect?

  • Pete

    You are arguing for it’s virtues really. Do you know where these employees are located now? Have you any idea how ignorant you sound?

  • Pete

    That is not socialist architectural ideology. It’s democratic architectural ideology. Socialists don’t involve folk to make decisions that is not in the field of their expertise.

  • Adel Zakout

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    I read the reactions to my article regarding Apple’s new “mothership” with a little bit of dismay. I’d like to give a little background about myself first, before I delve into the main points that were raised by the numerous commenters. I was born and grew up in Dubai to a family or Architects – and I am an Architect myself; very far from a left, socialist one. I lived through the construction boom in the Middle East, where with their newly found oil riches, the local petrol sheikhs wanted to put Dubai on the map – and “Guinness World Records” breaking buildings were one of their primary tools to do so. The tallest, the largest and the most fantastical had to be there. The result was an unregulated architectural frenzy that crashed with the advent of the global financial crisis – and one that has scarred the region for generations to come. I am also half Bulgarian where a similar fate followed a couple of years after Dubai; once beautiful beaches, valleys and historic cities have become victim to bad quality, inconsiderate and unsustainable buildings. I’m not saying Cupertino is even close to that – but the dreary buildings, paved over parking lots are made possible by exactly the same council processes.

    The purpose of my article was to use the ridiculed Cupertino Council Meeting video where Jobs presented the new “Mothership” (come on, free wifi, asking whether he’d follow safety regulations and showing off an iPad 2 ???) as a tool to illustrate my opinion (and undeniably, honestly promote what we are trying to do at OpenBuildings) as opposed to comment on the specific qualities of the proposal, even though I do have my thoughts there.. I’m not arguing whether new Apple Campus is good, or bad for Cupertino; rather my aim was to make a point, which I think I did. The comments by many of you misinterpreted what I was trying to say – I’m going to move on to explain some of the points which were common throughout:

    The architectural qualities of the proposal

    Again, this is not something I am interested in commenting on as an aesthetic quality, which is very subjective. I do stand by my point that the building could be anywhere in the world and has no context which, for me personally, is a shame. I’m not saying that its got to look like a 19th century barn either. One of the commenters mentioned that architecture is an art – which I have to totally disagree with. Architecture is so much more than that – and function, science, context must be the key to the beauty of a building as opposed to the self-proclaimed “talent” of an artist. The building would have so much more richness though if it went through a procedure where the community had an opportunity to agree or disagree with it — which it undeniably will in the later stages. But the City Council made it clear that it would get approved, pretty much regardless of the later processes.

    Feedback by local communities result in committees with personal interests

    Exactly! That’s a huge problem that results in worse quality and costlier buildings which take longer to build. That’s exactly why I said that I believe in a structured feedback process – where the community can be involved as opposed to lead the design process from the beginning of a building’s life – and to have incentive for all local residents, as opposed to just the minority that are vocal, to leave positive as well as negative comments. 

    Architects and Developers are at huge risk when developing buildings – because of the unknowns and risk of rejection when they apply for a building permit. The system needs to reduce those – currently the building permits are built around the idea of objections – negativity, as opposed to positivity, Architects and Developers are just scared to engage with the community and do the minimum possible required by law.

    Design by committee

    I absolutely do not believe in Design by Committee. I did not go through the hell of architecture school in order to have local residents design my building for me. I do believe that buildings are built for the people who use them on a daily basis – to live, work or play in. And I do think that Architects should have tools and methods by which to engage with the local residents to build better buildings. 

    The fact that it’s Apple’s land, money, it’s a closed plot that doesn’t affect anybody else apart from the people that work there and they should be able to do whatever they want

    What?? No! What if they wanted to build a highly-toxic chemical plant with a brothel that looked like a Gothic Cathedral that is closed off, on their land, with their money?? And maybe some Foxconn workers to work there too. Buildings affect our daily lives, the world is ours and we need to have a voice in decisions that affect us on a daily basis. Yes, in the planning processes of most western countries the local residents can have their objections made clear – but that’s exactly the problem, this happens after the majority of decisions have been made and the only comments that people make are negative. In the specific case of Apple’s Mothership – I doubt that any other company or individual would get the same treatment that they did by the city council. They are supposed to be an authority as opposed to a giddy fan club which blindly says yes yes yes and favours some over others. I think this is a more accurate representation of how it went:

    I believe in a more democratic construction industry, where information is open and professionals are able to engage with the people whom they are affecting in a transparent way with adequate tools to result in better buildings.

  • BeachWar is trying to find some “monumental” development to set an example of for  their lame agenda. This advertisement/”article” is such BS.
    Cult Of Mac editors… Just because it has something to do with Apple and Steve doesn’t mean you have to publish it. Unless it’s actually relevant. This shit isn’t. 

  • Gary

    I hardly think your experiences in Dubai or Bulgaria are relevant to a country that operates under a completely different mindset and constitution, Adel.

    Our system of free markets and free choices within basic guidelines of safety and zoning regulations has served us well for many, many years.  It enables us to adapt to changing technology, economic circumstances  and evolving cultural likes and dislikes in a free, efficient, grassroots manner.  

    The only time things get screwed up is when government agencies or groups like yours attempt to hijack that free process in order to impose themselves on the free choices of free people, who basically know what’s best for themselves, and have a huge incentive to make things best for those around them.  This interference with the free market is at the root of our current financial crisis, BTW.

    Most people don’t want to build some ugly monstrosity that everyone hates, so they don’t.  No regulation on that front is necessary.  And in the rare cases that they do, well, that’s what we call the price of freedom.  

  • Dave Abrams

    That’s correct, Literal Jim. 

    But I wasn’t talking about the actual legal possibility of this happening, rather using it as an example of something I’m sure Chris K. most likely wouldn’t support, despite his claim that anyone should be able to do anything they want with their land. 

    (And exactly to my point, you’d have to go through local government regulations to make something like that happen, regulations Chris K. considers disgustingly un-American.)

  • Dave Abrams

    I get what you’re saying, but I think that it’s probably too idealistic to work in practice.

    I think most of us would agree with the idea of “freedom,” but, like most things in life, people start making exceptions to rules and ideals when it is convenient for them.

    I might think it’s a bit ridiculous that neighborhood committees can tell people in a community what color they can and cannot paint their homes, but I can also see that if I owned a home and had children, I might not want my neighbor painting a giant dong on his roof, either.

    Sure, it’s a stupid, childish example, but I think you catch my drift.