Why Apple’s new campus is a $5B futurist failure

August 16, 2017

Apple recently unveiled their new, circular Silicon Valley campus, which can hold 12,000 employees and reportedly cost $5 billion to build. It’s been described by some as “spaceship-like,” its landscaping is drought-tolerant and the walls even “breathe.” It has been dubbed, simply, “the Ring.”

In 2011, Steve Jobs proposed the new headquarters to the Cupertino City Council. In this meeting, he said, “I think we have a shot at building the best building in the world.” Now that it’s complete, is it the best?

How Apple failed to prepare for the future

Norman Foster of Foster + Partners, the architecture firm behind the building, has admitted the team didn’t properly prepare for the future of transportation, specifically the coming driverless car revolution. The building was designed and created with a huge underground parking garage, which, as we’ve noted before, will be rendered obsolete when all cars are autonomous.

Of the new campus, Foster said: “Maybe if I had a second time around I’d be putting a lot of persuasive pressure to say, ‘Make the floor-to-floor of a car park that much bigger, so if you’re not going to be filling it with cars in the future you could more easily retrofit it for more habitable space.”

However, we’re confident Apple will innovate and find a worthwhile use for their parking garage space when the time comes.

What you and your clients can learn from the Ring

Your clients aren’t Apple and likely don’t have a seemingly endless budget to overhaul huge spaces for future needs. Still, you (and they) should start thinking about future technological developments now, even if they don’t seem immediately related to commercial real estate. Tech like driverless cars will have an impact on every industry –– including yours.

You’re an advisor to your clients, and it’s your responsibility to help them ensure their investments are future-proof. Make sure the buildings your clients buy can be adapted to meet future needs. That way, they won’t be rendered obsolete soon after purchase and become more expensive than necessary in the long run.

For more about the latest in tech and what it means for the future of CRE, subscribe to the Buildout blog.

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