Apple's (AAPL) proposed new spaceship-shaped headquarters got a super-charged blast-off Tuesday night when the Cupertino City Council voted unanimously to approve the 2.8-million-square-foot behemoth beside Interstate 280, fulfilling a dream of co-founder Steve Jobs, hatching an iconic landmark for Silicon Valley, and promising more congestion in an already traffic-challenged region for decades to come.
"Steve transformed Apple into one of the most innovative companies in the world and we understand the responsibilities that come from carrying his legacy forward with this project," Apple's head of real estate and facilities Dan Whisenhunt told the council. "We've designed it with the same care and attention to detail as we do with all Apple products."
A standing-room only crowd packed the chambers in the hour before the meeting, with several hundred Apple employees filling up much of the room, some of them holding bright green posters with one reading "Cupertino for Apple Campus 2.''
With councilmember Rod Sinks recusing himself because his wife works for Apple, Mayor Orrin Mahoney and his three colleagues quickly took up the matter of Apple's project: a four-story ring of curved glass housing up to 14,200 employees and surrounded by acres of green space.
Much of the session was a rehash of environmental and other impacts posed by the project, with the first hour devoted to traffic consultants talking about the "significant but unavoidable'' impacts on neighboring roadways. Apple has already promised to underwrite a number of roadway improvements to alleviate the congestion throughout Cupertino, and vowed to raise from under 30 to 34 the percentage of its employees who will be using public transit or Apple's shuttle buses to commute to work.
"The project will certainly cause traffic issues," said Councilmember Mark Santoro shortly before the vote, "but I'm happy to hear Apple's going to work with us on solving these problems."
Whisenhunt, Apple's point person on the project, said the building would be a manifestation of Jobs' lifelong love of the city. "Right here at this same podium two years ago," he said, "Steve shared his excitement about this campus and about creating a home where Apple grew up. Cupertino is synonymous with Apple; it's on every box" of Apple products "and we're immensely proud of that."
By Patrick May
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