CUPERTINO > Apple's plans for a new "spaceship" campus in Cupertino are certain to create an attention-getting headquarters icon and another Silicon Valley landmark, but the company's push into neighboring cities such as San Jose and Sunnyvale is likely to also transform those communities with dramatic new office complexes and high-paying jobs.
"This is much like Florence during the Renaissance," said Russell Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. "The trend today is the creation of campuses that are innovative and reflect Silicon Valley's innovation."
Cupertino-based Apple is in the vanguard of the trend to create hubs that will be memorable and striking, a stark contrast to the here-today, gone-tomorrow culture of Silicon Valley's early days of startups in garages or small shared office spaces.
"Originally, the Silicon Valley architecture was temporary in tilt-up structures because the tech companies didn't know how they would evolve and change or even be there the next day," Hancock said. "Something has changed in the last year or two. Iconic companies are driving the change toward dramatic campuses. Apple, Google, Samsung, Facebook, LinkedIn all are doing this."
Apple's future headquarters, a doughnut-shaped complex spreading over 2.8 million square feet next to Interstate 280, in square footage would be second only to the Pentagon, when completed. Able to accommodate as many as 13,000 workers, it would be the largest privately owned office building in the country, even exceeding the Empire State Building.
"The new campus will be a landmark. No other building looks like this," Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang said. "This will be a world tourist attraction."
But the new Cupertino campus is far from alone in capturing attention. Apple is growing so much that it is spreading across Silicon Valley and beyond to have a profound effect on the region in terms of land acquisition, the regional workforce and influence on major population centers. Silicon Valley workers, leaders and residents are watching with interest what Apple will do in Sunnyvale and north San Jose for starters.
"Apple has such a tradition of innovation, and that is one reason why San Jose and Sunnyvale were so excited to get them, and why Cupertino is excited to get the spaceship," said Chad Leiker, a first vice president with Kidder Mathews, a commercial realty brokerage. "The communities where companies like Apple and Google go into feel that they are part of something bigger going on than you typically expect."
In Sunnyvale, Apple has leased a 777,000-square-foot complex whose centerpiece is a curving building that looks a bit like a three-leaf clover. Potentially as many as 3,800 Apple employees could work there, although the timing for completion of the complex is uncertain.
"Apple coming here is a game changer for Sunnyvale," said Mayor Glenn Hendricks. "It shows how the tech industry views Sunnyvale. The expansions of tech companies here are a reminder of how Silicon Valley is an innovation economy."
In north San Jose, Apple has assembled 86 acres worth of office space and vacant land that will accommodate the growing company as it expands in the next few years. When fully developed, Apple's north San Jose campus could contain 4.15 million square feet of offices. Several thousand are expected to work at the complex.
"Apple adds a very bright star to the constellation of top tech companies in San Jose," Mayor Sam Liccardo said. "I'm confident this will be an iconic campus."
Some industry watchers believe that Apple could use some or all of the north San Jose site for development of digitally connected, intelligent vehicles.
Despite the prospect of tens of thousands of jobs in aggregate at the three campuses, some observers warn that the workforce additions also place pressure on the roads and local housing supply.
"We don't know where these new workers will live or how they will get to work," Hancock said. "We haven't figured all that out yet. The answer is that we need more housing, it has to be in the core of Silicon Valley, it has to be dense, and it has to be vertical."
BOOM AND BUST
Like all tech companies, Apple has gone through its boom and bust cycles, and more than once. A swath of empty offices might be the fallout were Apple's fortunes to sour and its need for space to wane.
"It's a possibility that Apple contracts, but they have a lot of things going for them that can counteract that," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Campbell-based Creative Strategies.
Among the sturdy bulwarks for Apple's business: In late January, Apple announced it had 1 billion active devices on its iOS. That's a formidable platform from which it can attack new markets and fortify existing ones, he said.
"All those devices mean that Apple has a solid foundation for expanding its services and apps business," Bajarin said. "And Apple still has at least five or seven more years of growth for its iPhone. The biggest thing going for Apple is it's a very smart company and won't stop innovating."
The real estate investments are a testament to how Apple brims with confidence these days about its staying power and how the company has evolved over the decades since its founding 40 years ago.
"There is a sense of Silicon Valley that we have become a capital, just as the nation has a political capital in Washington, D.C., a financial capital in New York City, an entertainment capital in Hollywood," Hancock said. "Silicon Valley is the nation's capital for innovation, entrepreneurship, disruptive creation. The structures we see here from tech companies like Apple reflect that dominance."