Apple leases more curvy glass suburban real estate

central and wolfe exterior
© HOK/ Landbank Investments

We have devoted a lot of pixels to Apple's new headquarters, designed by Foster and Partners, but the company is growing so fast that it is already looking for more space, and has just made a deal to lease what everyone is calling the "second spaceship".

HOK courtyard© HOK/ Landbank Investments

It's a dumb name; about the only thing it has in common with the HQ is the fact that the walls are curved. Apple had nothing to do with the design; it is a spec building that was called "Central & Wolfe" by a real estate developer trying to market "the coolest, most exciting and intelligent campus available in Silicon Valley". It is perhaps an allusion and homage to the Apple Headquarters, into a strange curvy cloverleaf with a square parking garage grafted awkwardly onto a corner. Or perhaps it's something less; It's online pitch make it seem dumber than it is, all about "thinking outside the box" and with quotes from Walter Isaacson, so obvious that I am surprised that Tim Cook and Apple weren't embarrassed, it just exudes knockoff.

parking entrance© HOK/ Landbank Investments

Like Apple HQ it is designed to handle thousands of cars, with 2,582 parking spaces, or 3.4 spaces per thousand square feet of space. if Apple's employees fill the building, that's one space for every 1.45 workers, almost as insanely high as Apple Headquarters, which I described as "just another gas-guzzling suburban office park," at least where it came to parking. But that was over two years ago; no doubt everyone will be driving Teslas or Apple Cars so it won't be a problem.

Site Plan© HOK site plan before and after

It's not that it's a bad building; HOK is a good firm with talented architects. They are going for LEED platinum and "possibly" Living Building Challenge Net Zero Energy. And I suppose there is just no way to renovate all those 40 year old office buildings they are knocking down; no way to animate the spaces in between and turn them into a grid of streets and cafés, and give it a sense of urbanity. No, better to demolish and build new because of LEED and all that, it's much greener.

waiter© apple

And if sitting outside nestled in the curve of a building looks good on Norman Foster's renderings,

courtyard© HOK/ Landbank Investments

Why not do the same thing at HOK's?

running by HOK building© HOK/ Landbank Investments

And while the running looks good at HOK's

fields© Apple via City of Cupertino

The track is wider at Apple.

HOK aerial shot© HOK/ Landbank Investments

My objection to the Apple HQ is the way it works like a suburban office park from the sixties instead of being an exercise in city building. My objection to this is that it is just seems so derivative, sitting there in the middle of little suburban boxes and surrounded by highways. It looks like the spaceship lost a piece on the way down to make room for that parking garage. It looks squeezed, as tight a landing as a Falcon 9 on a barge. It looks like it's time to build communities, not spaceships.


I am a huge apple fan, from the watch on my wrist to my phone to the Macbook Pro that I am writing this on. I am thrilled that they are so design obsessed. However sometimes I wish their ideas about architecture and city building were not so suburban. And I hope Jeff Speck is wrong about the trees at Apple stores.

courtyard© HOK/ Landbank Investments

Tags: Apple Inc

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