In its dedication to existing corporate landscape of Silicon Valley, the planned Apple headquarters is a classic example of what Louise A. Mozingo, in a book due out next month from MIT Press, calls "pastoral capitalism." Tracing the history of the postwar suburban corporate campus, Mozingo, an associate professor in the landscape architecture department at UC Berkeley, calls it very much a product of its era, symbolizing "a particular moment of American economic history" when our corporations were gaining in wealth and global reach and increasingly fleeing the city for the privacy and elbow room of the suburbs.
The rise of the corporate estate, she writes, also reflected the Jeffersonian mores of a nation that from its earliest decades loved "to turn its back on cities and stake a claim on the suburban pastoral idyll — isolated, proprietary, verdant, and disengaged from civic space." Those adjectives, of course, perfectly describe the planned Apple headquarters. There are unmistakable echoes in Apple's new building of the headquarters of Merck, the pharmaceutical giant, in suburban New Jersey, a campus designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates.
Even more than low-density tract housing, Mozingo argues, the pastoral corporate campus "precludes the concentration of population that makes public transportation feasible for governments and users." And even if suburbs like Cupertino decide to make tentative moves in the direction of greater density and better transit, the architecture of the corporate estate — the land it eats up and the automobile infrastructure it requires — helps fix in place land-use patterns that are tough to dislodge.