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Glowing Apple Park preview fails to address Silicon Valley’s housing issues

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More than 12,000 employees are expected to fill the 2.8-million-square-foot ring 

Apple Park from above. Photo by Uladzik Kryhin

The WSJ Magazine published a piece this week about Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design office, and his company’s new headquarters slated for a fall 2017 opening. It’s full of choice tidbits, with details on Ive’s daily attire (a casual ensemble of white canvas pants, tan Clarks Wallabees, and a blue T-shirt lauded as a personal style that “telegraphs humility”) to his fawning friends (Norman Foster, whose architecture firm was hired by Apple to build the headquarters, calls him a “poet,” while Bono, member of an Irish rock ’n’ roll outfit, praises Ive’s “restless and relentless in pursuit of perfection”).

Lots of great intel here, especially for Apple zealots—everything from engineers “freaking out” over new whiteboards built into floor-to-ceiling sliding doors to the 2,000 custom bikes made by Public Bikes painted Apple gray.

Unfortunately, the story misses the mark when it comes to housing. Where does the mammoth tech company plan on storing the more than 12,000 employees during off hours? A simple control+F “housing” search in the article yields only one result—a reference to the amount of employees at the current headquarters at One Infinite Loop. (The answer: roughly 3,000.)

While housing isn’t ostensibly the responsibility of Apple, it’s hard not to ding both the company and Cupertino for failing to address how they plan on helping create residential growth for workers and their families.

After all, according to the same WSJ piece, Ive had an obsession with the idea that the new Apple Park campus “was built like a product, not like a piece of architecture.”

San Francisco and Oakland are no longer suitable docking stations. The Valley needs to catch up.

That said, Ive does take offense at some things, like at the notion that Apple contributed to a tree shortage in the Bay Area. He scoffs at that, saying, “as if we’d got to the end of our project and we thought, Oh, we’d better plant some trees.”

Arboreal issues and dearth of housing aside, Ive manages to takes a few passive digs at other tech campuses in the Valley. Without naming names, he’s most likely referring to Facebook’s new Menlo Park headquarters, commissioned by Frank Gehry, and Thomas Heatherwick’s plan for Google’s new campus, which, among other things, calls for a giant metal roof canopy that looks like a meringue pie.

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“A lot of the buildings that are being built at the moment are products of software-only cultures,” said Ive. “Because we understand making, we’ll build [a prototype] and try it and use it, and see what works and what doesn’t.”

Apple Park

19111 Pruneridge Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014