Steve Jobs pitches new Apple ‘spaceship’ campus to Cupertino City Council

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed plans for a new headquarters for the company that ‘looks a little like a spaceship’ at a City Council meeting in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday.

In his trademark black turtleneck, jeans and gray New Balance running shoes, Jobs said at the meeting the new building would hold 12,000 employees, and even house its own green-energy power plant.

Apple’s current headquarters can only hold about 2,800 people, Jobs said, according to a YouTube video of his presentation posted by the council.

‘We’ve got almost 12,000 people in the area,’ he said of Cupertino. ‘So we’re renting buildings -- not very good buildings, either -- at an ever-greater radius from our campus and we’re putting people in those. And it’s clear that we need to build a new campus.’


The new facility, as Apple envisions it, would be built on about 150 acres of land that the tech giant owns down the street from its current headquarters.

Jobs said Apple’s plan would involve demolishing buildings now on the site and constructing a new ring-shaped building that would be four stories tall, with four floors of parking underneath.

In the process, the project would increase landscaping to make up about 80% of the site, which is only about 20% trees, plants and grass now, he said.

On Monday, Jobs was on stage in San Francisco, revealing Apple’s new iCloud service at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference. Public appearances such as the two Jobs has made this week have been rare this year as the Apple co-founder has been on a leave of absence for medical concerns since January. He also announced the iPad 2 in March at an Apple event.

‘It’s a little like a spaceship landed,’ Jobs said of the planned facility. ‘It’s a circle, and so it’s curved all the way around. As you know if you build things, this is not the cheapest way to build something. There’s not a straight piece of glass on this building, it’s all curved.

‘And we’ve used our experience in making retail buildings all over the world now, and we know how to make the biggest pieces of glass in the world for architectural use.’

The proposed campus wouldn’t rely on Cupertino’s power grid for energy. Instead, it would run from an on-site power facility.

‘I think what we’re going to end up doing is making the energy center our primary source of power, because we can generate power with natural gas and other ways that can be cleaner and cheaper, and use the grid as our backup,’ Jobs said. ‘We think that makes more sense.’

Mayor Gilbert Wong said in a statement that Cupertino is excited that Apple is moving forward with a new campus, an idea Jobs first presented in 2006 at a city council meeting.

‘When Apple submits their building plans later this year, we know that we will be looking at a state-of-the-art facility and all the challenges and opportunities that go along with that,’ Wong said.

The review process for the new Apple campus will be the same as any other construction project, with evaluations of environmental impacts, air quality, traffic and other matters, he said.

‘The project will come to the City Council for approval in the fall of 2012,’ Wong said. ‘Following approval, Apple can submit building permits. Construction will follow, and Apple and the city expect the new campus to be completed by 2015.’


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Images: Illustrations of Apple’s proposed ‘spaceship’ campus in Cupertino. Credit: Apple/City of Cupertino