Apple’s Futuristic Cupertino HQ Receives City Approval

Apple has received final approval from the City of Cupertino for the construction of its new futuristic headquarters, but the iPad manufacturer will have to increase the amount it pays in local taxes.

The council voted unanimously to approve the new facility, but also to reduce the annual tax break it gives Apple by 15 percent, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The tax break was granted  in 1997, when the company was on its knees, and the city agreed to return 50 percent of the taxes generated each year from Apple’s business-to-business sales in an effort to keep Apple afloat and keep it in the local area. This rebate has now been reduced to 35 percent.

Spaceship Headquarters

“There will be short-term and long-term impacts from this new development,” Mayor Orrin Mahoney is quoted as saying. “And as part of our negotiations, this change was just one way that Apple could continue to help us out in the long-term. This will give us some additional revenue, which will be nice to have.”

“We’re really proud that you decided to stay here in Cupertino,” Councilman Gilbert Wong reportedly told Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s head of real estate and facilities.

The vote means that Apple can finally begin construction of its new headquarters. Apple had originally purchased the 98-acre tract of land in 2010, which had previously been the site of HP’s old base, which Apple is already understood be demolishing.

The new building is designed by the noted British architect Lord Norman Foster, and has been previously been compared to a ‘doughnut’ or a ‘spaceship’ thanks to the curved design of the glass building.

Four months before he died, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously attended the Cupertino City Council meeting and unveiled the formal plans for the building’s design. “It’s a pretty amazing building,” he told the council. “It’s a little like a spaceship landed.

Green Design

The building itself will embrace many of the minimalist design quirks that define Apple’s retail stores, including the heavy use of glass.

And of course the building is designed to be environmentally friendly from the start. It will reportedly be powered by renewable energy from fuel cell plants and rooftop photovoltaic arrays. The building also apparently boasts advanced natural ventilation and radiant cooling, which means that air conditioning will not be necessary for most of the year.

The 2.8-million-square-foot headquarters will be a four-story ring-shaped structure, that will include underground parking (on two levels) for 2,000 cars. This will allow the overall site to have a greatly reduced visual impact on the surrounding countryside, with the site said to be about 80 percent landscape, with 6,000 trees planted.

Its other facilities will include research and development areas; a 100,000 square foot fitness centre, and a 120,000 square foot auditorium.

Apple’s need for a new headquarters is clear as its current Cupertino campus has space for less than 3,000 staffers. The new HQ could house up to 13,000 employees.

Apple has previously stated that the new HQ is expected to open in mid 2016, and the city approval on Tuesday now means that Apple can begin to break ground on the site before the end of this year.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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