The dot-com city. Silicon valley urbanism = Города-доткомы. Урбанизм кремниевой долины
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The dot-com city. Silicon valley urbanism = Города-доткомы. Урбанизм кремниевой долины
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On their bland campuses, the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook dominate the world, removed from the mess and the prying eyes of the real city. But while their products are discussed endlessly, their urbanism has rarely been. So what does it look like? To date, the Silicon Valley campus has served as a backdrop to many a sun-kissed founder photoshoot, but there is little understanding of the distinctive urban personality that separates the village of Facebook from the town of Google, or the truly urban Twitter (which recently decided to move to San Francisco’s notoriously un-gentrifiable Tenderloin). This investigation of the private towns of Silicon Valley examines the tech campus as a typology and attempts to discover what urban design says about companies we think we know.
Ланж, А. The dot-com city. Silicon valley urbanism = Города-доткомы. Урбанизм кремниевой долины / Ланж А. - 3-е изд., (эл.) - Москва : Стрелка Пресс, 2017. - 38 с.: ISBN 978-5-9903364-7-6. - Текст : электронный. - URL: https://znanium.com/catalog/product/972669 (дата обращения: 22.06.2021). – Режим доступа: по подписке.
- 07.04.01: Архитектура
- 07.04.03: Дизайн архитектурной среды
- 07.04.04: Градостроительство
- 07.00.00: АРХИТЕКТУРА
- 07.03.01: Архитектура
- 07.03.03: Дизайн архитектурной среды
- 07.03.04: Градостроительство
Текстовые фрагменты публикации
АЛЕКСАНДРА ЛАНЖ ГОРОДА-ДОТКОМЫ УРБАНИЗМ КРЕМНИЕВОЙ ДОЛИНЫ 3-е издание (электронное) Москва «Стрелка Пресс» 2017
ALEXANDRA LANGE THE DOT-COM CITY SILICON VALLEY URBANISM 3-rd edition (electronic) Moscow Strelka Press 2017
УДК 72 ББК 85 L22 Lange, Alexandra. L22 The dot-com city. Silicon valley urbanism = Города-доткомы. Урбанизм кремниевой долины [Электронный ресурс] / A. Lange. — 3-rd ed. (el.). — Electronic text data (1 file pdf : 38 p.). — М. : Strelka Press, 2017. — System requirements: Adobe Reader XI or Adobe Digital Editions 4.5 ; screen10". ISBN 978-5-9903364-7-6 On their bland campuses, the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook dominate the world, removed from the mess and the prying eyes of the real city. But while their products are discussed endlessly, their urbanism has rarely been. So what does it look like? To date, the Silicon Valley campus has served as a backdrop to many a sun-kissed founder photoshoot, but there is little understanding of the distinctive urban personality that separates the village of Facebook from the town of Google, or the truly urban Twitter (which recently decided to move to San Francisco’s notoriously un-gentrifiable Tenderloin). This investigation of the private towns of Silicon Valley examines the tech campus as a typology and attempts to discover what urban design says about companies we think we know. УДК 72 ББК 85 The source print publication: The dot-com city. Silicon valley urbanism / A. Lange. — Moscow : Strelka Press, 2014. — 37 p. — ISBN 978-0-9929-1465-3. ISBN 978-5-9903364-7-6 © Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, 2014
It’s lunchtime at Facebook. At the company’s almost-completed Epic Cafe in Menlo Park, California, employees queue up on the dot of 12 for today’s hot lunch: Greek themed, with beet-dyed rice, spanakopita, kale, plus a choice of chicken or lamb. (There’s always chicken, one employee tells me, “they just change the spices.”) As soon as the line backs up to the plate station, another spur is opened, a manager running the show with a Trader Joe’s level of efficiency. On the pre-scuffed wooden floor under our feet, a black-painted diagram of a circuit board. On the walls, wheat-pasted pages from vintage cookbooks (if the 1970s are included in your idea of “vintage”). Around the edges, other food options: Panini presses, salad bar, what will be a sushi station (meantime, Facebook’s sushi chef has been paying midday visits to the campus’s already-renovated buildings), professional-grade espresso machines and local favourite Philz Coffee. The chatter soon rises to the level of din, bouncing off the hard surfaces. The floor plan may be reminiscent of a school canteen, but the look and cuisine are not. Designed by Roman and Williams, the partners behind the look of the Ace Hotel New York, particularly its popular drop-in lobby, the cafeteria has a dark, recycled-industrial palette of materials, evoking the holy (for Silicon Valley) garage. Black-painted pipes frame room dividers and act as legs for the serving tables. Lines of picnic tables with thick varnished tops march down one aisle. Another line of tables is stencilled with oversize numbers; to these one pulls up a modern schoolroom chair. Over by the coffee, a few soft surfaces: square sofas that encircle low tables, like banquettes at a bar. On a warm day — it’s 65 degrees and sunny on January 10 — many of the walls can be opened to the still-under-construction and open-air central spine of the campus. Garage doors fitted with Plexiglas panels will simply roll up, disgorging diners onto this private main street. — 5 —
“Our previous offices were in downtown Palo Alto, and we had to move through the city and interact with it,” says Everett Katigbak, communications designer at Facebook who has worked with architects Gensler on the renovation. “A lot of us became accustomed to that working environment. Going from one building, grabbing a coffee, going to a meeting became natural. We wanted to create flow through the campus. Let’s energise this courtyard and make it a thoroughfare.” The social media company, which currently has more than 2000 employees and announced its $5 billion IPO in early 2012, plans to slice holes into the ground floors of all the buildings, fitting them with “retail” stores. “The idea is it should feel like walking through downtown Palo Alto,” says Slater Tow, of Facebook’s corporate communications department. “There will be awnings, and we will create storefronts and scene-scapes in front of the buildings. Some of the brands will be real, some will be Facebook done.” In a conference room devoted to campus planning, one wall is covered in vision boards for these buildings and an as-yet-undeveloped General Motors site across the road. I see the Getty Center, TWA-inspired airport -tunnels, “interactive furniture” and many, many Disney Main Streets, daytime and night. Tow says a team of designers from Disney came in to offer advice on how Facebook should make its new outdoor connectors. Along with the coffee shop, there will be a bike shop, an on-site doctor, a gym with personal trainers, a BBQ shack and a pizza stand. Already, the company’s IT department has a service window adjacent to a new roll-up door. On a warm day, you’ll be able to hang out on a sofa playing video games in the fresh air while your laptop is getting serviced ... and still call it work. — 6 —
As others have pointed out, with their fitted plaid shirts and soft shoes, the Facebook employee and the Ace guest share a similar style and demographic. Both need good coffee and everywhere, anytime wifi. But where the real Ace on West 29th Street has become a favoured meeting place and drop-in spot for all comers, on this high street there’s a single payer. All the food is free, and all your potential new friends are from Facebook. * * * On Tuesday, June 6, 2011 the late Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s latest seamless, white, glowing product before the Cupertino City Council: the company’s new headquarters, a circular, glass-walled building intended to house 12,000 employees. “It’s a little like a spaceship landed,” Jobs said. And the blurry, sun struck renderings did indeed remind me of early Steven Spielberg movies like Close Encounter of the Third Kind. But after marvelling at the idea of an endless corridor of offices, and speculating on Twitter about which firm could handle all that curved glass, I realised Apple’s ring reminded me of something else. And it wasn’t the future. It was 1957. As I wrote on the Design Observer blog on June 2011, that was the year Skidmore, Owings & Merrill completed the Connecticut General Life Insurance Headquarters in Bloomfield, a suburb of Hartford. Sure, it was a box rather than a ring, but the concept is strikingly similar: an inward-looking, hermetic, heterotopic corporate world. An architecturally distinguished, technologically advanced retreat from the city, one complete enough to include its own grounds, its own restaurant, its own artworks, its own store, its own bowling alley and its own clubs. Employees weaned from urban life by — 7 —
recreating its social qualities outside the city. Silicon Valley’s post-war architecture begins, in some histories, with a contemporary and visually similar version of Connecticut General: IBM’s Building 25 in San Jose, designed by architect John Bolles. But while the products of Silicon Valley are endlessly discussed, the urbanism rarely has been. In fact, when I criticised the Apple donut as backward-looking in that blog post, many local commenters shrugged. All tech campuses are inward looking. There’s no city to turn one’s back on. Apple is merely improving on the norm, as it has for so many of its products. You have to see it to believe it, they said. Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, continued the retrospective theme in a column on September 10, 2011: In its dedication to the 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.” 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. When Silicon Valley was young, its entrepreneurs moved from their start-up garages to low-lying “campuses,” initially seeded by actual universities at places like Stanford Research Park. Mozingo defines the corporate campus, as developed in the 1940s, as office and lab facilities around a central green space, surrounded by parking. — 8 —
Modelled on colleges, these buildings were intended for corporate research only, and to attract scientists and engineers from academia by moving their offices out of industrial environments, thus giving them separate status. Set in suburban locations, to have to leave campus for lunch would have been too much of a break, even if there were any local restaurants to patronise. But some mental rest was required during the long working day. When IBM built its Los Gatos research facility in the mid-1960s, the exterior was clad in redwood and the courtyards landscaped by Lawrence Halprin. Mozingo quotes IBM executives at the time saying, “pauses are as important as the working periods ... the opportunity for frequent respites by glancing at outdoor vistas is in accord with modern psychological theory on the nature of efficiency.” This model persisted into the 1990s: as companies prospered, they built new, inward-facing campuses, complexes of loosely-linked buildings that typically included on-site food and a landscaped view. Where Facebook is building Main Street, Sun (built in 1999) had a garden with clipped hedges and untrodden grass. But what I noticed in Silicon Valley in 2012 was that most of Apple’s compatriots weren’t turning their back on cities, not intellectually. As at Connecticut General, they seemed to be trying to recreate them — but within their virtual security rings. Where once the capitalist ideal was pastoral, today it has become urbanised. Status accrues to urban brands, and the more sustainable urban lifestyle, even within northern California’s highway-scaled grid. A few examples of the urbanophilic rhetoric. At the announcement of their move to Sun, Facebook said they wanted “an ‘urban street’ feel.” In a November 2011 article by Andrew Blum in Metrop o lis, Primo Orpilla, partner in Studio O+A, designer of the previous Facebook offices, as well as workplaces for AOL, Square, — 9 —
Dreamhost and many others, referred to the communal spaces so important in the contemporary office as “town halls.” “It should be a scene,” Orpilla says, pointing to the lobby of the Ace Hotel in New York as an example of his goal. “Most of the time we leave it as a place to gather, play games, and eat—like the food court at a retail mall. You want that activity, that vibe. You certainly don’t want it to be empty.” All the food locations at Google are referred to as “cafes”, rather than the more corporate “cafeterias”. Facebook’s BBQ shack suggests all the pop-up fun of a metropolitan food truck. In Gensler’s plan for Nokia’s offices in Sunnyvale, California, the work groups are organised into “neighbourhoods”. It’s been 47 years since architect Charles W. Moore drove around southern California looking for signs of public life. His conclusion was that it was easiest to find at Disneyland in Anaheim, where the price of admission to a clean, well-lighted Main Street is quoted at the entrance kiosk. Los Angelenos have preferred to create private domestic islands rather than shared public spaces, he writes, leaving no collective sense of centre. The same might be said for Silicon Valley in 2012. These companies are islands, and their main street shops accessible only with a corporate badge. On my trip to the Bay Area I regarded myself as a tourist and a spatial anthropologist, travelling to a potentially new urban form, the dot-com city, with a list of questions. I made stops at Apple, Facebook and Google, as well as a couple of planned San Francisco alternatives. What is it that the tech companies see in the city, and, seeing those qualities, why don’t they move there? Which elements do they repatriate to the suburbs and which do they leave behind? — 10 —
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