Monday, April 17, 2017


The pet suburban office park project of Steve Jobs is like a grand vision of the future from 1964. It does remind us of something important: cars take up a lot of space, and if you build something that basically nobody can walk to, you're going to spend a lot of money to house them.

And then, unfortunately, there’s the car park. For 14,000 workers, Apple is building almost 11,000 parking spaces. Many cars will be tucked under the main building, but most will cram into two enormous garages to the south. Tot up all the parking spaces and the lanes and ramps that will allow cars to reach them, and it is clear that Apple is allocating a vast area to stationary vehicles. In all, the new headquarters will contain 318,000 square metres of offices and laboratories. The car parks will occupy 325,000 square metres.

Apple is building 11,000 parking spaces not because it wants to but because Cupertino, the suburban city where the new headquarters is located, demands it. Cupertino has a requirement for every building. A developer who wants to put up a block of flats, for example, must provide two parking spaces per apartment, one of which must be covered. For a fast-food restaurant, the city demands one space for every three seats; for a bowling alley, seven spaces per lane plus one for every worker. Cupertino’s neighbours have similar rules. With such a surfeit of parking, most of it free, it is little wonder that most people get around Silicon Valley by car, or that the area has such appalling traffic jams.

I have a hard time believing that Apple, at least, couldn't get whatever it wanted out of Cupertino. They probably need that much parking. It's a bit tough to fix these places once you've built them, but it's really stupid that we keep building them.