Jobs stumps for new 'spaceship'-like Apple campus

Steve Jobs goes before the Cupertino City Council to show plans for a new corporate campus dominated by a single circular building.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Steven Musil
3 min read
An artist rendering of the circular building Apple plans to build on its new campus in Cupertino, Calif. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

Apple is bursting at the seams with employees, and CEO Steve Jobs wants to build a new corporate campus in Cupertino, Calif., that will be dominated by a single "spaceship"-like building.

Jobs went before the Cupertino City Council this evening (see video of the meeting below) to present plans for development of a campus that will augment--not replace--its current campus at Infinite Loop Drive. Jobs said the current campus holds about 2,800 employees, but the company has 12,000 employees in the area.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs addressing the Cupertino, Calif., City Council on Tuesday. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

"Apple is growing like a weed," Jobs told the City Council. "It's clear we need to build a new campus."

Apple purchased 98 acres from Hewlett-Packard last year on Pruneridge Avenue, adjacent to 50 acres the company purchased in 2006. Apple did not reveal the selling price, but real estate experts estimate it may have been $300 million or more, according to an AllThingsD report.

It's on that combined parcel of land that Apple plans to construct an enormous four-story, circular building in which 12,000 people will be employed, Jobs said.

"Think about that, that's rather odd, 12,000 people in one building," Jobs told the council. "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."

"It's a bit like a spaceship landed," Jobs said of the building's unique design while showing the council artist renderings.

"There's not a straight piece of glass in this building--it's all curved," he said, citing the company's experience creating innovative Apple Stores around the world. "We know how to build the biggest pieces of glass for architectural use."

Apple's design calls for the campus to be 80 percent landscape with 6,000 trees, Jobs said, including apricot trees, orchards of which used to dominate the site before HP bought it decades ago. Most of the vehicle parking would be located under the building and landscape, Jobs said. It would have an on-campus energy center that would be its primary source of power, using the power grid as a backup. It will have an auditorium for presentations and an R&D center.

An Apple exhibit shows the proposed new campus on the right in relation to the current Infinite Loop Drive campus at left. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

Jobs said the site is currently 20 percent landscape checkered with parking lots. Landscape would increase 350 percent, visible parking would decrease by 90 percent, and building footprint would decrease by 30 percent, he said.

The company's plans were welcomed with compliments by city council members. However, when queried by a council member about how Cupertino would benefit from the project, Jobs pointed out that Apple is the largest taxpayer in the city and that tax base would vanish if Apple had to move its operations to neighboring Mountain View. The council member followed up by asking if Apple might provide the city with free Wi-Fi, a comment that Jobs and many in the audience treated as a joke.

Another council member pointed out that the closest Apple Store was at Valley Faire Shopping Center in San Jose and wondered what it would take to see the company open a store in Cupertino. Jobs responded by pointing out that Cupertino didn't get traffic significant enough to support a store.

The company hopes to break ground on the project next year, with its opening planned for 2015.