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By John Biggs
March 5, 2018
With the rise of megacorporations like Google/Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, it stands to reason their bases of operations would be equally grand in size and scale. Many of these behemoth companies have equally gargantuan headquarters, some of which are virtually cities unto themselves.
These multi-billion dollar headquarters include amenities that are a far cry from the offerings of today’s more modest headquarters. Things like like full-size indoor basketball courts, indoor swimming pools, campus-style dormitories for employees, running tracks, climbing walls and hiking trails are not uncommon in these megastructures.
The rise of the megaheadquarters is a move away from the traditional skyscraper model for businesses to call home, which typically utilize vertical space to house their employees and multitude of departments. Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple Park, is a perfect example of that new model. The $5 billion structure, known colloquially as “The Spaceship,” is a massive, glass-clad, ring-shaped building that sits on 175 acres, with 2.8 million square feet and 9,000 parking spots. Within its curved walls, some 12,000 employees will while away their 9-5s.
Powering such a massive structure in a way that fits in with today’s demands for sustainable building was a consideration in construction of The Spaceship. The building will be powered largely from an “on-site low carbon Central Plant,” according to Apple Insider, and it’s equipped with solar panels around the building to store and repurpose the ample California sunlight. It also took landscaping into consideration, planting some 7,000 trees around the campus, recruiting a Stanford University arborist to focus on indigenous species of flora and reducing the megastructure’s impact on the local environment, according to MacWorld UK.
Google recently announced plans for a new campus in Sunnyvale, Calif., not far from its existing Mountain View headquarters and designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The new campus, slated to open sometime in 2021, boasts 1 million square feet of office space and will house 4,500 Google employees. The building was designed with the idea of maximizing usable space, with the rooftops accessible from the ground level, and including rooftop bike paths that enable employees to easily shuttle themselves between areas of the campus by bicycle, Rollerblades or on foot. It also has a LEED Gold certification, its own public transportation system, and a low-water consumption plan for its landscaping.
Facebook is another giant company that recently moved into equally giant digs. Its 430,000 square foot campus in Menlo Park, Calif. was designed by none other than famed architect Frank Gehry, features ultra-modern furniture, design elements and art, and a 9-acre rooftop park,according to Mashable. The campus, CEO Mark Zuckerberg boasted on his personal Facebook page, is “the largest open floor plan in the world.”
The addition of wide-open spaces, healthy distractions like gyms, atriums and bike paths, and hyper-modern designs and appearances are all designed to accommodate the Millennial workforce, many of whom never knew a time where taking an elevator to the 50th floor of a high-rise office building was the norm for the corporate world. The changing face of megacorporations’ megaheadquarters is a reflection of the changing workforce.
These megastructures are not without their critics and naysayers, however. For examplame, what company has the size and reach to take over such a building if one of these companies goes out of business? It seems unlikely that Apple will find a buyer for a massive ring-shaped office building in the unlikely event it needs to liquidate assets one day. Critics also question the environmental impact of putting such huge structures in mostly suburban areas, or areas tucked away into forestland, which the companies’ have responded to through sustainability initiatives and spending big money on landscaping to preserve the area’s natural feel.
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