Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Critic Pans Apple's New Campus As a Retrograde Cocoon 332

theodp writes "LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne isn't exactly bullish on Apple's proposed new headquarters, which will hold 12,000 Apple employees in its 2.8 million sq ft. Described by Apple as 'a serene and secure environment' for its employees, Hawthorne says the new campus 'keeps itself aloof from the world around it to a degree that is unusual even in a part of California dominated by office parks. The proposed building is essentially one very long hallway connecting endlessly with itself.' Corporate architecture of this kind, adds Hawthorne, seems to promote a mindset decried by Berkeley prof Louise A. Mozingo. 'If all you see in your workday are your co-workers and all you see out your window is the green perimeter of your carefully tended property,' Mozingo writes, and you drive to and from work in the cocoon of your private car, 'the notion of a shared responsibility in the collective metropolitan realm is predictably distant."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Critic Pans Apple's New Campus As a Retrograde Cocoon

Comments Filter:
  • by mehrotra.akash ( 1539473 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @08:35AM (#37367332)

    Isnt that Apple's business model anyway?

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @08:43AM (#37367376)

    People who have nothing better to do than criticize some company's proposed building needs to get a life.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jrono ( 470199 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @08:55AM (#37367420)

    People who have nothing better to do than criticize some company's proposed building needs to get a life.

    "LA Times architecture critic"

    Yes... architecture critic should stop criticizing architecture...

  • Obsessive Analysis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @08:55AM (#37367424)

    'the notion of a shared responsibility in the collective metropolitan realm is predictably distant."

    Or maybe it is just an office building and the product is defined by the corporate culture and people who presumably explore the community beyond work and home.

  • A bit of a stretch (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dimeglio ( 456244 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @08:55AM (#37367426)

    Architecture is an art. Some like, some don't. It is an interesting viewpoint but trying to link the shape of a building to Apple employees social responsibilities is a bit of a stretch. Especially since most university campuses are cocoons in of themselves yet successfully promote global social responsibilities.

  • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:00AM (#37367444)

    'the notion of a shared responsibility in the collective metropolitan realm is predictably distant."

    Yeah and...so what? Is that a fancy way of saying that office workers should work in the 'hood so, what, I feel some personal responsibility for fixing it? Does that mean I need to work in the hood so I can stare at it all day?

    'If all you see in your workday are your co-workers and all you see out your window is the green perimeter of your carefully tended property,

    Of course I see my coworkers when I'm at work. That's why they call it work. That's what I'm there to do. And if my workplace can be nice and in nature, hey, cool.

    Look, I'm not an Apple fan. I give them shit for all kinds of things. Building a nice work environment for their employees is not on the list of things I will give them shit for. And I don't see it as the job of any company, or any employee, to intentionally increase their connection, proximity, or exposure to increasing urban density. Some people like dense urban areas, some don't, but it's not anybody's responsibility to specifically increase density.

    This is predictable coming from an urban paper like the LA Times. They see concrete and steel as desirable. Green things are to be assaulted at all turns. But there are others of us who like trees, shade, grass, and other nice things. The goal isn't to be disconnected from anything - it's to be able to hear something other than traffic noise, and see something other than dirty man-made surfaces while at work.

    Hey, I think it sounds nice. I think the LA Times needs to go camping and discover that there's more to life than concrete.

  • by curmi ( 205804 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:01AM (#37367446)

    ...Tall Poppies.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:05AM (#37367462) Journal

    Considering that being surrounded by green space is a health benefit, I'd rather be there than their artsy-fartsy-but-doesn't-really-mean-anything "notion of a shared responsibility in the collective metropolitan realm"

    Downtown cores suck. It's called a concrete jungle for a reason.

  • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:13AM (#37367498)
    So basically the critic was trying to put into a negative light the fact that the Apple Campus will have lots of trees, be embrace nature, foster a healthy work ethic, and all without contributing to urban sprawl of larger cities. You just can't win can you?
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:15AM (#37367510)

    I was more bugged about him blasting Jobs for not including a credit roll as part of the proposal. I've been in on these meetings and I've never once heard names being dropped about who worked on the project. The council members wouldn't recognize the names of famous architects or design firms so what would be the point? He also bashes it for not really being green without making any specific points except for claiming you'll need a car. I guess he was pissed off that Jobs didn't include a monorail in the design. It was mostly opinion with few if any facts. More "I hate Apple, just because". Jobs made Pixar what it is and saved Apple from a sure death. He deserves some kudos. And no he didn't do it all on his own but what exec has ever done it all himself? He never once claimed he did any of it he simply provided the leadership needed to make it all work. The guy changed computers and even personal electronics for millions of people. It'll be a sad day when he finally passes.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:19AM (#37367524)

    That actually is what architecture as a field largely thinks about these days. For the past 90 years or so, at least since the publication of Le Courbusier's Toward an Architecture [amazon.com] (1923) if not earlier, architecture is about constructing spaces that enable and shape living, work and leisure, and what effects architectural choices have on individuals and societies. It is, yes, also about the placement of load-bearing walls and whether to include decorative gargoyles on the pediment, but those aren't the main things architects and architecture ctitics study. So this article's criticism seems pretty directly within scope: how architecture shapes work and the interaction of workers with the society around them.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:21AM (#37367528) Homepage Journal

    Uh what? You're right except for the urban sprawl part; spawning new campuses in (relatively) remote locations drives housing development near them... urban sprawl. What we need is more use of already-extant locations. For example there's lots of malls going empty all over the country; Apple should find a clever way to repurpose some of those. The malls already have all the services needed by an office building, they have more parking than you will need but you can use some of that flat space to put up more buildings. Or, you can rip some out and put in trees, which would be welcomed by the community. When and if the economy recovers to the point that there is a need for new building, they can put up their fancy new campus then and let the mall turn back into a mall.

    The campus will have less trees than it could without a building there, and it is also unnecessary as we have plenty of empty buildings. But reusing existing structures doesn't feed anyone's ego...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:36AM (#37367602)

    The problem isn't with downtown cores. The problem is with how Americans tend to build them. The "concrete jungle" you speak of is a uniquely-American mistake.

    Of course such downtown areas will be shitty and imbalanced if you only have downtowns where nobody lives, and people only come from the suburbs to work there from 0900 to 1700 on weekdays.

    But if you do it sensibly, like is done in Europe, Asia and even American-like countries like Canada and Australia, you end up with excellent areas that are very livable. People end up living downtown, rather than just working there. Because of this, there are often extensive parks and green space. There is nightlife. There is a community spirit that you just don't find in the suburbs.

    Now, this sort of a downtown area does depend on some things that many Americans mistakenly consider "socialist" or even "communist", like good public transit. That's why America only has a few good downtown areas, and they are always in older cities like Chicago and New York City. Americans today have such a warped view that they probably couldn't implement a good downtown, even if they tried their hardest.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:42AM (#37367650) Homepage Journal

    There are other ways to avoid needing a car on a campus other than including a monorail. Good architects these days notice immediately the transportation requirements created by the architecture, because of the energy, pollution, time, social and beauty degradation that cars bring. Creating a need for cars is certainly not green.

    Jobs deserves and gets plenty of kudos for his tech and biz achievements. But when his perhaps final achievement has problems, especially one at odds with the humanist image his whole career has cultivated, that doesn't deserve kudos. It deserves criticism that points out where the architecture doesn't live up to the standards Jobs created.

    But then, your ramble winds into an early eulogy. You're not talking about architecture. You're just an Anonymous fanboy Coward who detected less than total worship of Steve, and jumped in to save the day.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @09:46AM (#37367684) Homepage Journal

    The critique didn't say anything about "the hood", by which you mean some ghetto. Cupertino doesn't have "the hood". The "collective metropolitan realm" is lots of other rich, high-end IT corporations and the other businesses that support them. But that realm has some diversity: other people who aren't working on Apple's stuff. Not getting Apple's specific corporate values or outlook. It might or might not have dirty manmade surfaces, concrete and steel. It doesn't really have density, except in the corporate arcologies like Apple's. It does have other people, with other points of view. Which is healthy. Monoculture isn't healthy, no matter how green it is.

    Why do you fear the hood, that you surely have managed to avoid without an Apple architect, so much that you see it lurking in the shadows of an architecture review that doesn't have it? Is it your guilt over not fixing it? Because the only place your complaint could have come from is inside your own psychology. Not the review you're using as a way to get it out there in front of us.

  • by superdude72 ( 322167 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @10:12AM (#37367886)

    ...I'll take a city any day.

    I worked on a corporate campus that was well integrated into the city of Berkeley, CA, for instance. Being able to easily go have lunch somewhere interesting, or stop by a bookstore, or visit the farmers' market--in other words, do the normal stuff that human beings like to do, as opposed to what food-court designers like to do--was a huge benefit of my job being located where it was.

    Working in an office park in South San Francisco, on the other hand, was like being perpetually stuck at the airport. My company provided a video game room to compensate. But it was like being an intelligent animal given a tire to play with at a poorly designed zoo. It is amazing to me that a place where tens of thousands of people work could be designed with so little thought to their needs other than cubicle space.

    This is why Silicon Valley companies such as Google provide all these seemingly cool benefits such as gourmet cafeterias. The office parks and campuses leave a lot to be desired in terms of quality of life when you're hiring people who may have just moved from a cool college town. As nice as the cafeteria at Google is, I doubt it's as cool as the gourmet gulch I left behind in Berkeley.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2011 @10:33AM (#37368028)

    So basically the critic was trying to put into a negative light the fact that the Apple Campus will have lots of trees, be embrace nature, foster a healthy work ethic, and all without contributing to urban sprawl of larger cities. You just can't win can you?

    Before wasting your time criticizing someone else's work, you should at least try to understand what has been said. After all, odds are that those you are trying to criticize, which happen to have taught architecture at Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley [latimes.com] may actually know a bit more about architecture than you do.

    Regarding your claim, the Christopher Hawthorne's criticism isn't a simplistic and naive tirade on "lots of trees" and other nonsense, which you may only interpret as such if you hadn't read the article (and therefore made your comment to be baseless and knee-jerk gibberish). What Christopher Hawthorne stated is that, contrary to what Jobs' and his minions said, the design for Apple's new campus isn't cutting-edge and "is practically bursting with contradictions". Among the contradictions, Christopher Hawthorne pointed out the following:

    "in many ways it is a doggedly old-fashioned proposal, recalling the 1943 Pentagon building as well as much of the suburban corporate architecture of the 1960s and '70s. And though Apple has touted the new campus as green, its sprawling form and dependence on the car make a different argument.

    He goes further by stating the following obvious but insightful point:

    The more interesting question is whether a place like Cupertino can maintain its low-density sprawl in future decades, as the Bay Area's population continues to grow, and whether the council's enthusiasm for the new Apple headquarters can be read as an endorsement of a car-dependent approach to city and regional planning that might have made sense in the 1970s but will seem irresponsible or worse by 2050.

    For those with a basic understanding the deep impact that urban planning has on our lives, including social and economical, this is rather obvious. If the city accepts this sort of architecture then it will be forced to invest time and money aggravating their urban mobility problem and making their lives harder by making it impossible to provide basic logistic networks that are cheap to maintain and to use. Moreover, if a city is designed so that their inhabitants' lives are limited to a small bubble of reality which contains nothing more than their suburban homes, their cars and their workspaces then this sort of urban plan will end generating generations of sociopaths who are detached from their community and it's affairs. This will force segregation based on where you are employed. This problem and it's negative impact on society is widely known for decades, with the inception of social housing [slashdot.org] and the problems that it ended up generating in pretty much every country which invested in it, including France, Germany, and even the US.

    So, no. This isn't, as you put it, a petty criticism targetted at Apple, an organization which, by the victimizing comments some people make, is always perfect and is always right. This is a very reasonable and realistic comment on the negative impact that this shiny piece of architecture has and will have on a community, economically and socially. And if you tried to step away from Apple's reality distortion field you would realize that.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @10:55AM (#37368196) Homepage

    This distinction works right up until the point where, as some rumors have it, Apple discontinues the MacBook Air and Mac mini in favor of new iDevices that are glorified iPad and Apple TV and respectively.

    Your argument works right up to the point were, as rumors typically go, they turn out to be false.

    Save your angst and garment rendering for reality. It's bad enough as it is.

  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @12:17PM (#37368756)

    What a load of crap, modded up by Americans who long for a better world, and Euros who imagine the US as a hellhole. I've been to more European cities than I have fingers, and the only one that had substantially more greenspace than the US was Rome, and that's just because it had the good fortune to be built atop the ruins of an ancient civilization.

    And even if we make believe that Europe is some idyllic paradise, the concrete jungle is "uniquely American"? Have you ever seen the streets of Taiwan or Korea or India? You think they have tons of green space lying about?

    Go on Google Maps and look at NYC compared to London. The only difference is that the Hudson is blue, whereas the Thames is a distinctly British shade of "muck".

  • Ugh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @01:07PM (#37369100)
    'the notion of a shared responsibility in the collective metropolitan realm is predictably distant.'

    Jesus. I can't describe in words how contemptuous I am of anybody who would utter those words with a straight face.

    The crazy thing is, I would expect anybody who thinks that way to be an Apple zealot in the first place.
  • by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @02:31PM (#37369680)

    Have you actually looked at the map you've linked? It's a suburban wasteland, with streets after streets filled with nothing, where there is nothing to do, to see, to experience and even worth noting. It's a vast waste of space where those who live in it are forced to live in a bubble, void of any community experience and a sense of belonging. It's a place where people risk to be prisoners in their own homes and, to have the change to escape their prison, they must have a car and able to drive it for long periods of time, through a labyrinth of empty suburban roads where everything is dull and looks the same and then through a soulless interstate. That, Marie of Romania, is a place that is designed to suck the life out of you and leave you alone with your miserable life, and incidentally that's exactly one of the points that Christopher Hawthorne made regarding Apple's project.

  • You propose good socialist vorker bugs on a stinking bus. Europe uses force to achieve this. It's creeping into some US urban stink holes but fortunately not all.

    You got that right.

    Stockholm resident here. Man, it's terrible. Haven't owned a car since I moved here. The government here forces me not to have one by making it possible for me to get pretty much anywhere in the greater metro area in, say, 45 minutes or less, just about anytime. I can get to the downtown office on Södermalm in about half the time it would take me to drive there. Costs me about a hundred bucks a month (790 SEK currently) for a 30-day unlimited pass for the subway, surface commuter rail, buses, and ferries--how dare they charge me less than I'd spent on petrol just to get back and forth between home and work. What's worse, all those vehicles are generally clean and well-maintained.

    Damn that government! Damn them all to Hell!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2011 @04:47PM (#37370622)

    "Collective metropolitan realm"? My ass. The Valley blows. It's nothing but ugly-office parks, horrendously overpriced (and shitty) housing and strip-malls. Utterly devoid of anything remotely resembling a culture worth interacting with.

    And remember the only reason to make the building "nice" is to keep the geeks THERE AND WORKING instead of going out and having a life.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.