updated 02:15 am EDT, Thu June 27, 2013
New HQ slated to open in 2015, city soliciting public comments
The city of Cupertino held a meeting on Wednesday summarizing a first evaluation of the environmental impact of Apple's forthcoming Campus 2, a massive redevelopment project involving grounds formerly owned by HP and now controlled by Apple. The new, larger headquarters -- said to be urgently needed due to the expansion of Apple's workforce as a result of its success -- was among the last projects worked on by co-founder Steve Jobs before his death and is dominated by a large, "futuristic spaceship" style main building.
The meeting, the first of five forums where the public and those affected by the project will be encouraged to comment and express any concerns about the undertaking, was largely to explain in detail how the city was examining the project for its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as required by law. Public Affairs Director Rick Kitson presided over the meeting, which went over key findings and details of the 650-page EIR. The report was conducted by LSA Associates, a firm hired by the city.
The report examines Apple's proposed in myriad ways, considering everything from geology to cultural impact. While few have criticized the aesthetics of the campus -- which reclaims much of the land that was once an apricot orchard and replants trees and other landscaping features, the project has not avoided criticism. The use of the large central building rather than a traditional campus of numerous smaller buildings, plus other innovations such as having most of the parking facilities underground, allowed Apple to shrink the space needed for buildings to 23 acres from the current 32 acres, while landscaping will grow from 43 acres of the land to 102 acres. Nearly 2,500 more trees will be planted on the property than exist there now.
The "ring" design of the building was intended by Jobs to foster collaboration and reclaim the center area as an outdoor space. The design is augmented by large glass panes that curve with the building and allow more natural lighting for the facility. The EIR study also considers factors like water use, biological balance, traffic considerations and possible hazards. In the current plan, the city plans to sell a portion of Pruneridge Avenue (a public road running adjacent to the facility) to Apple over security concerns.
Overall, the EIR showed that despite a massive jump in the number of employees that would be working there compared to its time as an HP campus, the design of the facility accommodates a greener and more natural environment. The main building is said to be able to handle a total of 14,200 employees, more than 9,000 higher than the current sustainability level. Due to the design, the "occupied building space" will increase from 2.66 million square feet to 3.42 million square feet, even as Apple's design uses less room for buildings compared to the present. The facility will have a total of 10,980 parking spaces across multiple parking lots, most of which will be underground.
The meeting was the first of five forums at which the public and neighbors of the Apple campus will have a chance to address any concerns or issues. Two of the forthcoming meetings will be held during normal city council events scheduled for later this year. Citizens can contribute comments to the EIR itself by sending their submissions to the city either through the city's website or by mail before 5:30pm on Monday, July 22.