While many of the conversations regarding Apple today will center around the launch of the iPad 3, the Natural Resources Defense Council has taken to its blog to attack the computer giant over its plans for its new Cupertino campus. The proposed Foster+ Partner-designed campus impressed us with its expansive glass facades and significant commitment to renewable energy sources, but the NRDC’s Kaid Benfield all but directly calls for a boycott of Apple products in light of its violation of “the most basic tenets of smart growth and walkability in the sprawling, car-dependent design of its new headquarters.”
Benfield is far from alone in his opposition to Apple’s new Cupertino campus. When plans were unveiled in mid-2011, the LA Times referred to it as a “retrograde cocoon,” while TreeHugger posed that the structure is “anti-urban, anti-social, anti-environmental and probably anti-Apple,” adding “it could signal the end of Apple as a creative juggernaut.”
The biggest concern appears to be that the very large-scale campus stoutly perpetuates carbon spewing suburban Californian car culture. With garage parking for over ten thousand cars, and little by way of street connectivity, the carbon emissions of Apple employees commuting to and from the site could serve to undermine the otherwise impressive environmentally responsible goals of the building, which features a 5MW solar array and a vast amount of green space.
Benfield’s post at the NRDC does propose alternative approaches Apple might have take when developing the large site: “They could have built the site with a combination of corporate offices, new housing (the notorious shortage of affordable homes in the Silicon Valley causes much environmental damage), and neighborhood services… If they built enough new units of housing, perhaps they could reduce the hefty amount of corporate parking, because some employees could choose to live nearby and walk. By facing the street, they could have set themselves up nicely for a future transit line.” Ultimately, Benfield poses “They could have made this about the community rather than about themselves.”
Images © Apple, Inc, via City of Cupertino.