remembering Steve Jobs, and the art of land use persuasion

Steve Jobs’ last public appearance was as a land use advocate, presenting plans for Apple’s circular new headquarters to the Cupertino City Council just four months ago tomorrow.

“Pretty cool” and “like a spaceship has landed” made the news last June, because Jobs was talking like pundits expected, while framing the rollout of something special, fresh and new.

Notwithstanding Jobs’ emphasis on heavy landscaping and subsurface parking, Philip Langdon has criticized the proposal in urbanist circles for its fenced, office park setting of glass and the auto-centric suburbia of old.

Familiar architectural critics have also cross-examined the premise of London’s Foster+Partners’ design. The Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Hawthorne termed it nothing short of a “retrograde cocoon”, while Paul Goldberger in The New Yorker last month questioned whether the building’s enormity would leave Jobs’ last contribution to his company as the least meaningful of his career.

I’m suspending judgment on the building for now, to focus on style and Jobs’ relentless pursuit of dreams. Last June 7, the way he presented and argued, with retiring charm, lit up the room.

Three years of law school does not teach that kind of persuasion. Such artful persistence was Jobs’ magical power, a quality which we should always remember.

Video courtesy of City of Cupertino, City Channel. Click on video to see Steve Jobs’ presentation.

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  5. A masterful presentation. But, while an improvement over what is there, the plan simply perpetuates the syndrome of single use suburban development. How about moving down to 50% open space and including some housing (perhaps for some lower wage workers) and other uses that might capture some trips and result in a more sustainable and resilient plan for the site.

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