The proof will be whether or not people want to work there. Apple's competitors for talent are offering employees good transit connections and walkability. Steve Jobs will offer traffic congestion, a long commute, and an employee cafeteria. What a visionary!
And, once again, it is NOT an example of landscape urbanism. It's just modernism. The point of this thread was to discuss LU, not to afford you an opportunity to bash a building that emphatically has nothing to do with LU.
As an IT professional of the programmer persuasion, I can also guarantee that Apple is NOT going to have any problem recruiting people. Apple puts out a "Help Wanted" sign, and the guy unlocking the door will likely be trampled by the programmers and engineers wanting to interview.
You really do need to broaden your circle of acquaintances to include people who don't think exactly like you do.
The result? They got their campus with someone else's loss: that streetwall-retail is still untenanted, years later, 'cause the those IT and biotech workers, beavering away in their campus-type buildings, have no demand for retail goods directly below their offices. Instead of taking the elevator down to the parking garage at the end of the day, they now have to walk several blocks to get to the standalone garage, but when they do so they don't bother to stop to buy stuff or hang out at streetfront cafes along the way. You just have deadspace and impoverished landlords. The streets still feel like a ghost-town, despite the NU principles in its design.
You can't force human behavior to your own ideological bias about how a city "should" look like. It'll fail and your project will fail. Jobs knows what his workers want. He's giving them exactly what they want because retaining those workers is everything for him and his company's profitability. You can bet that he will give them their dream office building.
Trying to learn about landscape urbanism through reading seemed futile, so instead I looked for some real-world examples. http://www.groundlab.org/ has some examples, but they don't help me much. Mostly, landscape urbanism seems to mean removing all curves and repalcing them with straight lines. It also seems very influenced by brutalism, though that may just be my perception. Groundlab's projects reminded me of UMass Dartmouth, whose main campus (master plan and structures) was entirely designed by Paul Rudolph. In his own words, "SMTI [now UMD] juxtaposes a pedestrian campus defined by earth mounds with an encircling parking system. A spiraling mall created by buildings organizes the heart of the complex. The campus is intended to be a single building utilizing a single structural-mechanical system, to be constructed of one material." Click for google image feed.
To my eyes, in landscape urbanism land it's apparently 1960 all over again.
I wonder about the security considerations that come with designing such a facility. Multi-national high-tech firms like Apple probably have protocols in place which favor a more isolated setting. I could be wrong, but the saucer-like design suggests to me a sort of surveillance component, an attempt to control the peripheral space around the building.
I had tried to write a paper analyzing landscape urbanism's impacts on health. Ive had a very hard time since its impossible to pin it down to anything practical. Some of its adherents have a real poor sense of history, talking about the impacts of highways on cities, for example, without considering the neighborhoods that were bulldozed.
I could go on...
This is off topic a bit, but intended to respond to Linda's point about tech and IT workers and forcing NU ideas like mandated groundfloor retail below residential and office space on 'em:
7 years in, no tenant:
6 years in, no tenant:
There's literally miles of this stuff in that area. They can't even lease space at the base of 20 story residential towers and with 10,000 students less than half a mile away. On a recent visit to Tech Park, I counted four active storefronts. Four.. over nearly a mile of cumulative active frontage. Two were restaurants.. and like the 4th or 5th attempt to start restaurants there, each (they have a 6 month shelflife) plus two 7-11s. Seriously, 7-11s. Never saw more than one or two customers at a time in those 7-11s, at around noon. There is one passably successful food court-type mall with a multiplex movie theater but that's presumably enabled by the multiplex.
Your examples show: no continuous on-street parking; no angled parking; no balconies; no upper-story setbacks; no continuous street-walls; excessive use of high-rise versus human-scale mid-rise construction; small windows that lack transparency; no memorable vista termini; gaping voids in the urban fabric; one-way streets; no active street frontages in surrounding buildings; no managed congestion of automobile traffic in order to activate the streets; no anchors for retail; a poorly-designed square that is too big and that has bad visibility and bad closure ratios; streets with bad closure ratios; bad architectural design with no memorable corners or random visual detail; poor transit connections; copious parking, especially in surface form, everywhere; a seeming lack of diversity in land use, building stock, and residences, as well as population; etc.
If these are your arguments against the New Urbanism, you may have a misapprehension of the term. I certainly don't think anyone viewing those spaces would consider them walkable or sociopetal.
Last edited by Pragmatic Idealist; 14 Jul 2011 at 8:58 PM.
Another misapprehension is that the New Urbanism somehow does not appreciate the importance of biophilia.
Parks, greens, and squares, as well as greenways and nearby open space (the natural and rural zones) are all part of the New Urbanism, as are green roofs, vertical gardens, and a careful approach to bioswales, biocanals, and other sustainable urban drainage systems. These things should be incorporated in a way that does not degrade walkability, however.
The Cambridge, MA Kendall Square area was master planned in the 1970s without any regard for New Urbanism. It's the old style, people won't work in a city unless they are in fortresses type of development. Even so, there is fair amount of retail in the area.
Um.. ok.. so what you're saying is, a few random, superficial frills and garnishes would bring about pedestrian activity? I'm sorry, but that's utter hogwash. By the way, I can find ALL of those amenities in failed retail in that neighborhood.
Land-use there is EXTREMELY mixed-use, by any measure, by the way. Residential buildings face most of those commercial blocks, there's even residential and lab space integrated into buildings with shared curtain walls. Streets are still dead. Tech workers like their labs.. not Times Square pedestrian densities.
The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California is another walkable campus with a interconnected street grid, narrow lanes, and a beautiful design from the 1940's that fosters interaction. Most of the buildings have a human scale and pleasant proportions. http://www.flickr.com/groups/1432468@N23
First off, yeah, Steve Jobs knows what his workers want because he's a techie turned entrepreneur. He's one of them at heart.
Second, who are these Apple "competitors" of whom you speak? Are most of them located in California -- or India? One of the big issues among IT staff over the last decade has been the outsourcing of programming work to companies in India where programmers work for a fraction of what their US counterparts make. In other words, there are a lot of competition for IT jobs -- especially since the recession -- just like for other jobs.
Third, even twenty-something single techies grow up, get married, have kids, buy a house and get a dog, save for kids' college and retirement, etc. Most techie people I know mind their pennies and don't spend frivolously. They'll buy in a Toyota or a Subaru but wouldn't consider a Lexus or Mercedes even when they can afford one.