Apple ‘Spaceship’ campus site special to Steve Jobs due to HP connection

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Steve Jobs wants to build a massive, 3-million-square-foot ring, donut, spaceship of a building on a 150-acre plot of land Apple owns in Cupertino.

While the building itself received much of the attention on Wednesday, after Jobs presented plans for the new campus to the Cupertino City Council on Tuesday night, the CEO did mention that the land beneath the proposed site has emotional significance to him because it was once owned by the founders of Apple’s rival, Hewlett-Packard -- Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.

In his presentation, which the city of Cupertino uploaded to YouTube, Jobs said:

So we’ve got a plan that lets us stay in Cupertino. And we went out and we bought some land and this land is kind of special, to me. When I was 13, I think, I called up –- Hewlett and Packard were my idols –- and I called up Bill Hewlett, ‘cause he lived in Palo Alto and there were no unlisted numbers in the phone book, which gives you a clue to my age. And he picked up the phone and I talked to him and I asked him if he’d give me some spare parts for something I was building called a frequency counter. And he did, but in addition that, he gave me something way more important -- he gave me a job that summer. A summer job at Hewlett-Packard, right here on -- in Santa Clara, right here off 280, the division that built frequency counters. And I was in heaven. Well, right around that exact moment in time, Hewlett and Packard themselves were walking on some property over here in Cupertino, in Pruneridge, and they ended up buying it. And they built their computer systems division there. And as Hewlett-Packard has been shrinking lately, they decided to sell that property and we bought it. We bought that and we bought some adjacent property that all used to be apricot trees, apricot orchards and we’ve got about 150 acres. And we would like to put a new campus on that so that we can stay in Cupertino. And we’ve come up -- we’ve hired some great architects to work with, some of the best in the world, I think. And we’ve come up with a design that puts 12,000 people in one building. When you think about that, that’s rather odd. 12,000 people in a building, in one building. But, we’ve seen these office parks with lots of buildings and they get pretty boring pretty fast. So, we’d like to do something better than that.


The plan: A building four-stories high with four-stories of parking underneath, surrounded by more than 6,000 trees curated by a Stanford arborist, a green-energy center to power the campus, new cafes for eating and auditoriums for company presentations.

‘It’s a little like a spaceship landed,’ Jobs said. ‘It’s got this gorgeous courtyard in the middle, but a lot more.’

Apple’s plans for the site also struck a chord with Cupertino Councilman Orrin Mahoney:

It was interesting, your throwback to HP. As a 35 year HP employee, most of it on the Cupertino campus in those buildings there, obviously I felt sorry when I heard that they were consolidating and moving. But now that we’ve seen your plans, the word spectacular would be an understatement. And I think that everybody is going to appreciate what clearly is going to be the most elegant headquarters, -- you know, at least in the U.S. that I’ve seen. So we definitely appreciate the work that’s gone into it and look forward to working with you to move it through the process.

Jobs responded, saying:

Thank you, I think we do have a shot at building the best office building in the world and I really do think architecture students will come here to see this. I think it could be that good.

The Apple co-founder and chief executive said the tech titan planned to break ground on the site next year and hoped to move into the finished building by 2015.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles