Apple’s ambitious plans for its so-called "spaceship" campus have finally been given the green light by Cupertino council, paving the way for construction to begin before the end of the year.
It was widely expected the council would approve of the project, though with around 14,000 workers expected to commute to and from the site each day, there had been some concern over the expected increase in traffic in the area. To reassure the council committee, the tech giant promised to underwrite road improvements around the site and to ensure that at least 34 percent of its employees commute using public transit or company shuttle buses.
According to local media outlet Mercury News, a “standing-room only” crowd – comprising many Apple employees – squeezed into the council chamber to witness the final arguments and vote.
Addressing the council members, Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s head of real estate and facilities, made reference to Steve Jobs, who personally pitched the campus idea to the council back in 2011, just months before he died.
“Steve transformed Apple into one of the most innovative companies in the world and we understand the responsibilities that come from carrying his legacy forward with this project,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve designed it with the same care and attention to detail as we do with all Apple products.”
Local residents also spoke up in favor of the project, with one referencing the fact that the company is a major employer in the city.
“As my mom used to say, ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you,’” resident Carol Baker said. “If we don’t honor Apple with this building, they’ll leave. There’s no reason for them to stay here and be loyal to a community that doesn’t support them. But if they left, it would be a disaster for the city.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the new campus, which includes the striking four-level spaceship structure, a new research and development facility, fitness centers, a cafe, and a 1,000-seat underground auditorium. Eighty percent of the site will be open space and parkland containing jogging paths and some 7,000 trees.
At a news conference Wednesday, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer summed up how much the city’s vote meant to the company, saying, “This is a very special moment for us at Apple. Cupertino is Apple’s home. We love Cupertino.”