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High Tech Embraces Suburban-Style Office Park Thinking

Critics claim tech companies such as Apple and Google are guilty of repeating past mistakes of urban development by creating suburban campuses that isolate themselves from the surrounding community.
April 26, 2016, 9am PDT | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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In an article in Collectors Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford speaks with Louise Mozingo, author of the book Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes, about the history of suburban office parks and how current developments reflect some of the worst aspects of urban planning from the past. Mozingo lumps Apple's new campus in Cupertino, California, dubbed the "spaceship," into a typology of development known as pastoral capitalism. Essentially, a shift from the urban environment of the city to a more suburban style campus, surrounded by green fields and featuring lots of parking that encouraged workers to drive alone.

Even the shift to personal vehicles rather than public transit was hailed as a perk: Private cars were supposedly more reliable and allowed for more flexible work schedules, particularly in an era before highways were clogged with traffic. In actuality, this encouraged employees to extend their workday past the standard hours of nine-to-five, and helped isolated workers to ensure company loyalty. “This is something that Silicon Valley companies still do—they capture the employee for the entire day,” Mozingo says.

The isolation of workers in these campuses had negative effects on surrounding communities, as Mozingo notes. Workers who see nothing but the roads they use to commute back and forth and their coworkers in company owned building, have no investment in the improvement of the community: "If you always rely on ride-hailing apps, why would you care if the sidewalk gets cleaned or repaired?"

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Published on Friday, April 15, 2016 in Collectors Weekly
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