UPDATE: Although having already cleared a preliminary vote, the Apple HQ was given unanimous approval from the Cupertino council yesterday. One “largely perfunctory” vote remains for November 15th. Detailed images, after the break.
Richard Nieva (CNET) reports that plans for Apple’s new corporate headquarters have been approved by Cupertino’s planning commission (the final, deciding vote will be in
May November 2014). The “spaceship”, designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with Kier & Wright, will cover 2.8 million square feet, host up to 14,000 employees, include ”a 600-seat restaurant with four-story glass sliding doors”, be surrounded by over 6000 trees, and – to top it off – come with a price tag close to $5 billion.
In a recent article for the Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote explores the ‘Skyscraper Index’, an informal term that suggests a correlation between the construction of a big company’s ambitious headquarters and subsequent financial crisis: “Think of the Empire State Building opening into the Wall Street crash of 1929, the Twin Towers being completed as New York City was flirting with bankruptcy or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur taking the mantle of the world’s tallest building and presaging the Asian financial crisis.” Heathcote goes on to describe the latest generation of headquarters being constructed for our current, tech-oriented goliaths – like Apple‘s monolithic “donut”, by Foster + Partners, and Facebook‘s Gehry-designed Menlo Park campus - and wonders: “if skyscrapers can tell us something about the temperature of an overheating economy, what do these groundscraping new HQs say?” Read the full article here.
In an attempt to “create an alternative environment” in the center of Amazon’s recently approved, three-block headquarters planned for downtown Seattle, NBBJ has submitted a revision that would replace a six-story office building with a tri-sphere biodome that will host various forms of plant life and provide a more natural setting for employees to work and socialize. Perhaps this change is Amazon’s way of “keeping up with the Joneses”, as many leading corporations – Apple, Google, and Facebook - have been unveiling plans to construct one-of-the-kind office complexes centered around sustainability, innovation and collaboration.
The announcement instigated a flurry of analyses and criticisms over the meaning of the design for the world – the Zen-like significance of the circle, the role of architecture in this technologically-driven age, the legacy and hubris of Jobs – but produced very little discussion over its meaning for the company itself.
Meanwhile, months before news of the “spaceship” landed, another internet giant was searching the California landscape for its own space to call home. Still very much under-wraps, the new Googleplex will be the first time Google builds a workplace completely from scratch. 
These projects will be the Magnum Opuses, the ultimate physical representations, of the two most influential Tech companies in the world, and the two share striking similarities. So let’s clash the plans of these two titans and take another look at Apple 2 – but this time in the light of Google – and see what they can tell us about these companies’ futures.