Will Apple’s ‘Spaceship’ Be the Greenest Building Ever?

By Zac Colbert

Last year, the late Steve Jobs revealed plans for Apple’s new ‘Spaceship’ building to be located in Cupertino City, California. The futuristic structure should be completed in 2015 and will house approximately 13,000 employees. It may look like it’s been plucked from the imagination of Philip K Dick, but what was previously the realm of science fiction has now become science fact. It promises to be one of the most technologically advanced offices in the world, being totally self-sufficient for power with the national grid acting only as backup.

Critics and eco groups dug into Apple some years ago due to their lack of green credentials, so their new corporate campus will have state-of-the-art energy efficient technology to control the building’s environment combined with an eco-friendly design and solar paneled roof. The architects responsible are Foster + Partners who have a proven track record with ultra-modern big buildings, they’re behind the beautiful Berlin Reichstag and the impressive Dallas Opera House, so expectations are certainly high.

Of the 150-acre site Apple intends to make nearly 80 percent green landscape by planting an extra 2,300 trees. There will also be a company garden with a wide range of flora and fauna. In addition, a jogging track will wind around the campus for the exercise enthusiasts, an employee car park will be tucked underground, and of course there will be an amphitheater to host Apple’s infamous product launches.

But not everyone’s convinced of the ‘Spaceship’ and its neo-eco aims. The New Yorker’s Paul Goldberger feels that it represents a big donut saying, “Steve Jobs, speaking to the Cupertino City Council, likened the building to a spaceship. But buildings aren’t spaceships, any more than they are iPhones.” Other detractors aren’t convinced that the new building will be as sustainable as Apple initially claimed and a few non-believers simply feel the mega-structure is unrealistic and too out there. Some Santa Clara residents have reported that Apple need to ensure the environmental impact is minimal, for example they will have to deal with a new influx of traffic into the area and the proper environmental studies need to be audited in order to reduce the effect of the building on people that live and work in the vicinity.

But this is the company that not only thinks outside the box, they live outside the box. If Apple can turn the ingenious marriage of form and function that’s evident in iPhones, iPods and Mac Book Pros, then their new campus will be a stunningly beautiful, as well as brilliantly functional, building. And any company that aims for their headquarters to be self-sufficient and eco-friendly via sustainable architecture, a zero-emission office that revitalizes green spaces should be praised. In fact there should be more pressure on multi-national corporations to undertake a similar feat.


Author Bio: Zac Colbert is a freelance copywriter who covers a wide variety of digital and tech related subjects. He’s written on a diverse range including eco-design, mobile workforce management and the hyper-mediated human being.

Image credit: Jn.Km, Flickr,

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3 responses

  1. It’s a stellar looking building and I don’t doubt its green credentials at all except for one major oversight:  It’s utterly unconnected to the urban fabric and does not appear to have taken transportation into consideration, other than the private automobile.   That’s a pretty big oversight in my mind!

  2. It looks good just like many Apple products and will doubtlessly be a monument to Jobs’s ego. Hopefully it won’t be a monument to the exploitation of labor, a subject beneath Jobs’s notice. Only since his death has Apple began to even look at that issue.

  3. As with all Apple products, the external aesthetics appear clean, uncluttered and high quality.
    But as Steve Jobs himself suggested ‘joining the dots’ of functionality to realise the promise will be vital. 
    As a high profile build, the World will be expecting to see great things, as Apple’s new HQ will be perceived to be an important confirmation of Apple’s future brand values post Jobs.

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