Steve Jobs First Conceived “Statement HQ” for Apple in 1983

Apple CEO Steve Jobs made quite the impression last week with his presentation to the Cupertino city council for a giant circular headquarters for his company, but his dreams for a “Statement HQ” for Apple began in 1983, according to former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery. Mr. McEnery, who was mayor of San Jose from 1983 to 1991, told The San Jose Mercury News about Mr. Jobs’s plans for an iconic Apple campus to be located in San Jose’s Coyote Valley.

Then, as now, Mr. Jobs had lined up a world-class architect to head the project. In 1983 it was I.M. Pei, who designed such buildings as the John F. Kennedy Library (see photo below), the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, and several other iconic buildings. Mr. Pei is 94 years old, today.

The John F. Kennedy Library

The John F. Kennedy Library
Photo by Eric Baetscher, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

According to Mr. McEnery, he and Mr. Jobs met at Carry Nation’s, a bar in Los Gatos. Though he was mayor of San Jose, he said they had to go to Los Gatos to find a nice place to eat (London Oyster House) and then to talk over drinks (Carry Nation’s) because the nicest restaurant in San Jose at the time was a Sizzler.

He also said that Mr. Jobs was pitching the idea of moving Apple from Cupertino to San Jose, specifically to the undeveloped area called Coyote Valley. He told the Mercury News that Mr. Jobs said at the time, “I want to help you make San Jose a great city.” Mr. McEnery went on to preside over major growth, including bringing many tech companies to his city, during his two terms as mayor.

The former mayor added, “What sticks in my mind is he clearly saw the potential in San Jose. We could have a great set of campuses, a la Stanford Industrial Park.”

The article also sources Bob Feld, a real estate developer who said he took Mr. Jobs on a helicopter tour of the Coyote Valley property, and then walked the land with the Apple founder.

“In my mind, he was very unequivocal about the vision he saw there. He did not come across as ‘Let me think about it,’” Mr. Feld said. “When we landed there, he was seeing things, he was seeing it right there that minute. There was no hesitancy.”

Mr. Feld said that they drafted a deal the next day for Apple to purchase the property in an all-cash transaction, and that the deal was in done shortly thereafter. Apple went on to sell the land sometime after Steve Jobs left Apple after a power struggle with then-CEO John Sculley in 1985, and clearly the project never advanced.

In last week’s presentation to the Cupertino city council, Mr. Jobs made the case that Cupertino had been good for Apple, and he seemed passionate about wanting to keep the company in that city, rather than moving somewhere else. Had things have been different, he might have been pitching Apple Statement HQ 2.0 to San Jose’s city council, instead.

You can find additional details at The Mercury News.