Apple Headquarters visit, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kirainet’s photostream

The proposed design for Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California seems to have it all:

Rendering Submittal 4, (Courtesy of City of Cupertino)

Futuristic look and state-of-the-art design? Check.
Energy self-suffiency from its own on-site, low carbon central plant? Check.
Increased use of reclaimed water? Check.
Facilitation of natural ventilation and ambient light? Check.
Maximized green space? Check.

So, what’s missing? Kaid Benfield, Director, Sustainable Communities, at the Natural Resources Defense Council argues in an article at Better! Cities & Towns that Apple has missed the opportunity to build a better neighborhood.

Cupertino, California was incorporated in the 1950s. It’s made up of numerous subdivisions. More of a suburb than a city, it has no real downtown shopping/commercial district. The Cali Mill Plaza (seen below) serves as the city center. Apple’s new headquarters may be green, but it will be far from sustainable if you’re looking for walkability and a human scale. Instead of integration, it compounds the isolation often found in a suburban landscape.

Cupertino City Center – Cali Mill Plaza, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Capt. StoneHops’ photostream

Benfield details exactly what’s missing:

Instead of creating a look-at-me “statement” sort of building that stands alone, Apple should be increasing the connectivity of its site to the surrounding community. It should be building affordable housing integrated into its design. It should be transit-ready, facing the street, to make walking to and from buses and perhaps a future light rail line more logical and direct when more transit comes to Cupertino, as it surely will in some form. It should reduce the size of its ten thousand-vehicle parking garage.

You can read the entire article here. In it, Benfield also presents a plan by two Tel Aviv architecture students that demonstrates how Apple could have done it differently in favor of community and connectedness.