Share story

Apple’s Peter Oppenheimer, the baby-faced high priest of finance for the world’s most valuable company, gazed up at the oversized map on the wall.

“Let me begin by showing you the sea of asphalt,” the chief financial officer said, pointing to the husk of Hewlett-Packard’s former Cupertino, Calif., campus, the site of Apple’s proposed new spaceship-shaped headquarters that goes before the Cupertino City Council for a vote Tuesday.

The plan: Flip a 175-acre site that’s 80 percent asphalt and buildings into one that’s 80 percent open space and parkland, then drop a spectacular ring of polished glass in the middle of it.

Perhaps channeling his former boss Steve Jobs at one of his product launches, Oppenheimer went into full Apple pitch mode.

“You see the energy and the love and the attention to detail that we’ve put into this,” he told the San Jose Mercury News during a sneak peek of a top-secret, living-room- sized model of the building.

“We have treated this project just as we would any Apple product. And this will be a place for the most creative and collaborative teams in the industry to innovate for decades to come,” Oppenheimer said.

He had every right to gush. With its jaw-dropping design from architectural superstar Sir Norman Foster and his team, its stellar environmental credentials and a tax-revenue windfall promised for Cupertino and the region, Apple Campus 2 promises to bring a world-class real-estate project to the heart of Silicon Valley.

During a rare 45-minute visit with Oppenheimer, the message was as crystal clear as Gorilla Glass: This Apple product, dreamed up by the late Steve Jobs and massaged with the help of company design guru Jony Ive and the folks who brought us the iPhone and iPad, is all about green and innovation.

“The concept of the building,” said Oppenheimer, “is collaboration and fluidity. It’ll provide a very open-spaced system, so that at one point in the day you may be in offices on one side of the circle and find yourself on the other side later that day.”

He said that urgency to work side by side, much as Jobs and Ive once did, led naturally to the design. “We found that rectangles or squares or long buildings or buildings with more than four stories would inhibit collaboration,” Oppenheimer said. “We wanted this to be a walkable building, and that’s why we eventually settled on a circle.”

And, said Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s director of real estate and facilities, that circle has been placed within a greenscape.

In fact, designers have shown an almost obsessive-compulsive take on the project’s ecosystem: a naturally ventilated space with radiant cooling that avoids the need for air-conditioning 70 percent of the year; LED lighting and smart-control systems adapted to the site’s microclimate conditions; on-site recycling of all excavated dirt into berms, eliminating trucks rumbling through the neighborhood during the three-year construction to begin this year.

“A building like this will use 30 percent less energy than a typical corporate building in the Valley,“ Whisenhunt said. “And that’s 100 percent renewable energy, which is unheard-of on this scale, with most of it produced on-site.”