How will technology that began in Silicon Valley change global urbanism and the elements of architecture? In this video from the 2014 Venice Biennale, inventor, designer and entrepreneur Tony Fadell discusses technology and its emerging impact on architecture with Rem Koolhaas. As a co-founder of Nest Labs, Fadell played a major role in developing the first Apple iPod and has taken his knowledge of interactive user interface with him to change one of the most basic interface elements in our homes – the thermostat. With adaptive technologies becoming increasingly prevalent in our daily lives, Koolhaas discusses the potential ramifications of technological architecture with concerns ranging from privacy to individual freedoms and more.
For many architects, the chance to make an impression on the landscape of New York City is a sign of distinction, an indication that they have "made the big time." But it's not just architects who have this desire: for decades, the city's big industrial players have also striven to leave their mark. However in this article, originally posted on New York YIMBY as "How New York City is Robbing Itself of the Tech Industry’s Built Legacy," Stephen Smith examines where it's all gone wrong for the city's latest industry players.
Strolling through the streets of Manhattan’s business neighborhoods, you can pick out the strata of the city’s built commercial heritage, deposited over generations by industries long gone. From the Garment District’s heavy pyramidal avenue office towers and side street lofts, dropped by the garment industry in the 1920s, to the modernist towers like Lever House and the Seagram Building, erected on Park and Fifth Avenues during the post-war years by the country’s giant consumer goods companies, each epoch of industry left the city with a layer of commercial architecture, enduring long after the businesses were acquired and the booms turned to bust.
But 50 or 100 years into the future, when our grandchildren and great-grandchildren stroll through the neighborhoods of Midtown South that are today thick with technology and creative firms, they are not likely to find much left over from the likes of Facebook or Google. There will be no equivalent of Grand Central or Penn Station, Terminal City or the Hotel Pennsylvania, left over from the early 20th century railroad tycoons, or SoHo’s cast iron buildings, developed by speculators seeking to feed the growing textile and dry-goods trades of the late 19th century. Perhaps unique among New York’s large industries, the tech and creative tenants that have become the darlings of the current market cycle are leaving very little behind for future generations to admire.
A first for the AEC Industry, the AEC Hackathon is a non-profit event that brings together teams of Silicon Valley technologists and industry stakeholders to help shape the future of our built environment. Formatted as a traditional "hack", the AEC Hackathon provides a playful, exploratory environment where disruption, innovation, and creative ideas are brought to life.
This article, originally posted in Metropolis Magazine as "Derek Parker's Third Act," tells the story of Aditazz, a Silicon Valley design startup founded by Deepak Aatresh, an entrepreneur with a background in silicon chip manufacturing. Now in collaboration with Derek Parker, a renowned veteran with six decades of experience in healthcare design, the pair could be set to revolutionize the way that hospitals are designed and built.
In June 2011, Derek Parker boarded a plane at San Francisco International Airport. The veteran health-care architect was headed to San Diego to deliver the most improbable presentation of his illustrious, six-decade-long career. For six months, he had worked as a consultant with a Silicon Valley design start-up called Aditazz. Shortly after Parker signed on, the new company had entered Small Hospital, Big Idea—a design competition launched by Kaiser Permanente. The first round, in which the firms remained anonymous, drew more than 400 entries. Eight of the nine shortlisted firms invited to San Diego were industry heavyweights. The ninth, to everyone’s surprise, was the unknown Aditazz.
The estimated cost of Apple’s Cupertino City headquarters has escalated from an already hefty price of $3 billion to $5 billion (more than $1,500 per square foot), reportedly pushing back the original completion date to 2016. According to Bloomberg, Apple is working with lead architect Foster & Partners to shave $1 billion from the “ballooning budget”. Most of the cost is seemly due to Steve Job’s “sky-high requirements for fit and finish”, as the tech legend called for the 2.8 million square foot, circular monolith to be clad 40-foot panes of German concave glass, along with its four-story office spaces be lined with museum-quality terrazzo floors and capped with polished concrete ceilings.
Although lambasted for his ambitious plans and “doughnut-shaped” design, Steve Jobs wanted to create a masterpiece that looked as good as it functioned, just like his products. During a 2011 presentation to the Cupertino City Council, Jobs stated, “This is not the cheapest way to build something... there is not a straight piece of glass in this building.” He continued, “We have a shot... at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see it.”
NBBJ's design for the new Samsung Headquarters in Silicon Valley will become one of the new buildings to relieve the the city of its dull, nondescript two-story office architecture that dominates the landscape and introduce a new culture of office environments with a little push from the architecture itself. According to the LA Times by Chris O'Brien this architectural endeavor is just one move to establish ground in the rivalry between Samsung and Apple, whose highly anticipated spaceship-like Foster + Partners-designed Cupertino Campus has made waves in the design community. Technologically innovative and influential companies like Samsung, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Nvidia have engaged in a cultural shift of the work environment to create a hospitable and creative community for its employees. The architecture of the campuses and offices introduced by each of these companies reflect the goals of an innovative business model that engages its employees in an innovative work environment that fosters collaboration and creativity.
One thing Google has become known for is their spectacular work environments. From playful employee lounges to environmentally sensitive design, the multifaceted internet giant has successfully transformed hundreds of existing spaces from around the globe into casual work environments that spawn innovation, optimizes efficiency, and boasts employee satisfaction. Much like many other California-based corporations, Google has been toying with the idea of building their own office space from scratch. Well, this dream will soon be realized, as the company has teamed up with Seattle-based NBBJ to expand their current, 65-building “Googleplex” in Mountain View, California, by adding a 1.1-million-square-foot complex known as “Bay View” on a neighboring 42-acre site.
Silicon Valley visual-computing pioneer Nvidia has joined the expanding list of tech moguls seeking to transform their work environment into the physical manifestation of their innovative business model. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has released the first schematic renderings - designed by Gensler’s San Francisco office - that depict a pair of 250,000 square foot triangular motherships centered around collaboration - a complete contrast to the typical, dated office building commonly found throughout Silicon Valley’s “oddly banal” landscape.
As most New Yorkers know, people are willing to shell out a hefty sum to live in a place where work and play are right around the corner from each other. But as the article by Ken Layne in The Awl points out, the west coast is a somewhat different place. UNLIKE New York City, which is crowded with restaurants, bars, and entertainment, as well as offices, design firms and businesses; Silicon Valley, which caters to programmers and tech companies that hire at $100k a year, offers few of the amenities that a nearby town like San Francisco does. So, Layne concludes, residents are willing to spend hours of their day making their way into the fortressed office parks of Silicon Valley, flanked by parking lots and boulevards, just to have a cultural reprieve to call home.
HP, Apple, Google – they all found their success amongst the peach groves and Suburban houses of California. But why? What is it about Silicon Valley that makes it the site of technological innovation the world over?
It’s tempting to assume that the Valley’s success must be, at least in part, due to its design. But how does innovation prosper? What kind of environment does it require? In a recent interview with The Atlantic Cities, Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, suggests that creativity is sparked from casual exchanges, the mingling of diversity, the constant interaction with the strange and new. In short, and as a recent study corroborates, innovation flourishes in dense metropolises.
Seemingly then, Silicon Valley, a sprawl of highways and office parks, has become a hotspot of creativity in spite of its design. But let’s not write off design just yet.
As technology makes location more and more irrelevant, many are looking to distill the magic of Silicon Valley and transplant it elsewhere. The key will be to design environments that can recreate the Valley’s culture of collaboration. The future Valleys of the world will be microsystems of creativity that imitate and utilize the structure of the city.