The circular outer building will enclose a courtyard which will provide shade and privacy for the workforce. According to the plan, the three million square foot sphere will house 12,000 staff, which could mean a quadrupling of the current headcount by 2015.
The downside is that there will be a need for good air conditioning, and a way to reduce the harsh sunlight which could trigger migraines and cause glare on workstation screens. Ihab Elzeyadi, associate professor of architecture and director of the High Performance Environments Lab at University of Oregon has also cast doubts on the building’s benefits, particularly the courtyard.
“Once the courtyard becomes so large and over-proportioned, you lose the bio-climatic benefits of a courtyard-centred building in creating a microclimate that is different from the unprotected space,” Elzeyai said.
Although energy consumption for the thousands of computers housed in the HQ will probably be less than today’s models, the air-conditioning load will have to be addressed. Jobs said Apple would provide this from its own “energy centre” using Cupertino’s electric supply as a backup if the alternative power fails.
Jobs has not said how the energy will be generated, but the design of the site leaves plenty of room for solar energy cells. Apart from festooning the building with panels, the 60 percent increase in green space for the site would allow room for a sizeable energy farm.
The extra green space is being provided by sinking the company car park under the new structure, leaving just a few parking spaces above ground for short stay traffic, such as visitors. This leaves room for the planting of 6,000 trees and an apricot orchard.
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