As companies grow, their infrastructure also grows with them. This tandem of growth usually results in having various offices in different parts of a city, or even in different cities across states and the world. With today’s technology companies, each of the growth giants have taken different positions regarding their bold visions of ideal company headquarters, as well as that of a smart building or smart city.
Silicon Valley’s Draw
At the center of development is Silicon Valley. It has affected the immediate area with property values up to the Bay Area increasing as demand and disposable income also go up. The need to be within the immediate area has made it imperative for companies to stay in increasingly cramped quarters.
Apple is the most impressive among Silicon Valley companies, not just in valuation but also in its new building. The new headquarters, called Apple Park, is also known as “the Spaceship” due to its circular architecture. It stands on 175 acres of land, surrounded by around 7,000 trees, and is designed for 12,000 employees. For most visitors, especially journalists, the most that they will see of this complex is the Steve Jobs Theater, a 1,000-seat auditorium which will likely host future product launches. The entirety of Apple Park costs around $5 billion to build, on the land where the former Hewlett-Packard campus was located.
Unlike Apple, Google is moving to the periphery of Silicon Valley in nearby San Jose. Its new campus will have six to eight million square feet of space for the offices of nearly 20,000 employees. What makes the site desirable is the transport hub located beside the site. The San Jose Diridon Station connects Caltrain and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) commuter trains, along with the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail and Amtrak intercity train service. The Silicon Valley Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) extension reaches the area and connects to the same hub, which also houses a number of bus lines going to and from the station. This efficient station is a big advantage to public transportation, giving more reasons not to drive to work.
Thinking Outside the Box
Seattle-based Amazon has come to a different conclusion. The rapidly growing company is outgrowing its offices and looking for space elsewhere. The company is not leaving Seattle, but they are looking for an urban area which can host what they call HQ2. They require office space of about 8 million square feet, and they have a budget of $5 billion for a campus that will have around 50,000 employees. Additional requirements include proximity to a city of at least a one-million population, an international airport within 45 minutes’ drive of the office, as well as requisite access to major roads and highways and public transit close by. If the proposals submitted meets these requirements, the construction can start as early as 2018.
For a truly novel approach to creating a smart city, Bill Gates has a solution. He recently purchased 25,000 acres of Arizona land where he plans to build a smart city from the ground up. The idea has its merits, as a city without any legacy or baggage makes it easier to follow the sensibilities of a digital environment. It will have high-speed networks, with provisions for autonomous vehicles, data centers, and the addition of new manufacturing technologies and logistics hubs. Named Belmont City, the proposed smart city has Belmont Partners as the lead development company; the company is a subsidiary of Cascade Investments, headed by Bill Gates. As a smart city initiative, Belmont City does not have any legacy systems attached to it.
Creating offices and campuses for the 21st century requires a large investment and vision from top management. The need for space requires the above initiatives. These companies require more room to grow and their new spaces will provide the new environment which goes with growth.