Once upon a time, big corporations put offices downtown and factories outside of town, and that was pretty much it.Then, beginning in the 1940s, as expanding roadways and cheaper cars and housing sent middle-class Americans to new suburban neighborhoods, companies began purchasing enormous tracts of land, with rolling hills and sparkling ponds and piney woods. And upon that land they built gleaming complexes of concrete and glass, situating their white-collar workers in the most desirable locations imaginable.
Of course, there’s more to the story, says U.C. Berkeley professor Louise Mozingo. Corporate campuses might be lush and verdant, but they’re expensive, inaccessible to many or even most workers, and incredibly resource-consumptive. “The idea,” she says, “is that you’ll look out your window and see green. I’m not saying it’s not appealing. I’m saying it might not be appropriate for a workplace in a post-peak-oil world.”