New architecture for icons of technology industry

Apple, Facebook and Google in Silicon Valley are all undertaking enormous building projects and working with the most prominent and renowned architects on their innovative corporate headquarters.

* a1 apple

Award-winning British Architect Sir Norman Foster has designed Apple’s new campus, a circular building that is 460m in diameter dubbed “the Spaceship”. It was one of Steve Jobs’ last projects and he worked closely with the architect on the design concept. Still an estimated two years from completion, the doughnut-shaped four-story building will house around 12,000 Apple employees in Cupertino, California.

It will be powered by renewable energy sourced from fuel cell plants and rooftop photovoltaic arrays. Most of the building’s car parking facilities are underground, leaving room for 6,000 indigenous trees, including apples, cherry, plums, apricots and persimmons. Air conditioning will not be necessary for most of the year because of advanced natural ventilation and radiant cooling.

Watch a 3d animation of what the Spaceship will look like, here.

Not long after Apple unveiled its audacious plans, Facebook decided that it too needed more space, and hired Frank Gehry, one of the few architects in the world who is even better known than Foster. The Facebook building will be set lower into the ground and will be covered entirely by roof gardens. Underneath these gardens will be what might be the largest office in the world, a single room so large that it will accommodate up to 10,000 workers.

date:modify: 2013-04-22T01:50:11+00:00

When Facebook announced its plans last year, company boss and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his site, “The idea is to make the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together. It will be the largest open floor plan in the world, but it will also have plenty of private, quiet spaces as well.”

The roof will support a handful of outdoor cafes, barbecues and work benches beneath full-size trees to complete a park-like effect. The building is scheduled to open in the spring of 2015.

A few months after Facebook unveiled Gehry’s project, Google, the biggest company of all, which has been operating solely out of existing buildings that it renovated to suit its purposes, announced that it, too, was going to build something from scratch. It hired NBBJ, a prominent Seattle-based firm to work on a new complex in the town of Mountain View.

* a3 google

The company analysed vast amounts of data on everything from sunrise and sunset, wind direction, working patterns and daily habits to design the Googleplex around staff needs. The layout is meant to encourage what the firm describes as ‘casual collisions of the work force.”You can’t schedule innovation,’ says Google. ‘We want to create opportunities for people to have ideas and be able to turn to others right there and say, ‘What do you think of this?’ It is scheduled for completion in 2015.

The complex, also known as Bay View, will be made up of nine boomerang-shaped buildings, most standing at four stories high. The blocks are arranged to create courtyards and meeting places around the HQ. Many of the buildings have gardens, green spaces and gathering areas on their roofs. All of the structures will be linked by bridges, and cars will be hidden underground.

Architecture Critic Paul Goldberger, writing in Vanity Fair magazine, adds an interesting perspective: “In other ways these elegant, alluring new buildings aren’t as different from their ugly and ordinary predecessors as they might at first seem to be. They’re a lot more exciting to look at and they may be pleasanter to work in, but they’re still self-contained, anti-urban objects, auto-dependent and set apart from the world around them. The Apple site, several open acres hidden by trees from its garden-apartment and strip-mall surroundings, really does look exactly like a place where a spaceship might choose to land.” Read the full article here.