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Tuesday, 28 May 2013 10:12

Four tech outfits building Tower of Babels

Written by Nick Farrell



Edifices of arrogance

Four of the big tech companies are building new HQs which architects are saying could be up for the Pritzker Architecture Prize for hubris. Amazon.com this week revealed plans for three verdant bubbles in downtown Seattle, joining Apple's circular "spaceship," Facebook's Frank Gehry-designed open-office complex and a new Googleplex on the list of planned trophy offices.

Margaret O'Mara, associate professor of history at the University of Washington told Reuters that all four show a statement, to say that they are special and different. However she warned that historically when a company becomes preoccupied with the grandeur of its premises, it often signals a high point in its fortunes.

“These fantastical buildings may end up as little more than costly monuments to vanity and a loss of focus on the core business that made for success in the first place,” she said.

Jeff Matthews of Ram Partners said that the Apple spaceship is going to get nicknamed the 'Death Star' because the project is so big and the timing is so bad. The building is coming to fruition just as Apple's product cycles may be maturing, he explained. "It is such a classic contrary indicator that you just get the shakes." He apparently flogged all his Apple stock when he saw the plans.

Amazon's design includes three steel and glass spheres almost 100 feet high, which will serve as the centrepiece for three new skyscrapers that will house a growing workforce in downtown Seattle.

Google the world's largest Internet search company, has outgrown its original headquarters in Silicon Valley's Mountain View and is planning to build a 1.1 million square foot Googleplex nearby. Facebook’s addition to its main campus in Menlo Park, California, that will be the size of seven-and-a-half football fields.

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Nick Farrell

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