Two Campuses Silicon Built
The boom and bust cycles of Silicon Valley demand a different, more
By Frank Edgerton Martin
Northern California has long been a region of innovation in landscape
architecture and campus planning. From the early Bay Area public
schools and parks designed by Lawrence Halprin, FASLA, in the 1950s
to the pedestrian-friendly Foothills College designed in Los Altos
Hills by Sasaki Walker Associates, the postwar growth of the region
created new models for public space in the Automotive Age.
Forty years later, Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), working with landscape
architects from The SWA Group, is building corporate campuses that
depart from the traditional office park bastion surrounded by parking.
Instead, the buildings open to embrace a continuum of gardens and
plazas that flow from public to private space. As an established
industry leader in the virtual imaging and used by the military
to simulate weapons and by industry to test new products, SGI is
well accustomed to innovation. The next generation of virtual exhibits
for science museums and world fairs is already in use within the
test labs of SGI's leading clients and in the highly secured labs
of its own facilities.
It's no secret that high technology is a volatile industry where
stock option booms can turn to bust in six months. For companies
like SGI, the greatest resources are human talent, collaboration,
and ingenuity. Keeping the best employees loyal means treating them
well with exercise rooms, meditation chambers, gardens, and active
recreation areas that can relieve the stress of all-nighters and
Dan Tuttle, ASLA, has worked with SGI in the design of three campuses
in the Mountain View area north of San Jose. As the second project
to come on line, the SGI Amphitheater Technology Center, or "Charleston
campus," is a significant model in design for knowledge workersthe
all-important "symbolic analysts" who write software, develop new
imaging techniques, and envision new applications for technology
in life and business. These information gurus are, as economist
Richard Florida has argued, generally active young adults who "place
a high value on amenities and the environment in their choices of
where to live and work." Landscape architects have an important
role to play in keeping them happy.
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