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Apple’s Arborist

During his research for a Wired feature on Apple Park, Steven Levy met David Muffly, the arborist who planned the tree species planted at Apple’s new headquarters. On his Backchannel blog, Levy tells the story of how Muffly and Steve Jobs planned the trees that would be planted at Apple Park, including Muffly’s recollection of the first time he saw the mockups of the building:

Jobs took him to a room that had foam-core renderings of the proposed new Apple headquarters — a verdant space with lush greenery (80 percent of the space is landscaped) dominated by a huge ring-like building where 12,000 people would work. “I was like, whoa, this is crazy,” recalls Muffly. “And I’m looking at it and my brain is like, it’s the mothership!”

Muffly was impressed with Jobs’ extensive knowledge of trees native to Silicon Valley:

Jobs knew his trees, too. “He had a better sense than most arborists,” says Muffly. “He could tell visually which ones looked like they had good structure.” On a visit to Jobs’ house in 2011, Muffly saw this in action. They were in Jobs’ backyard garden, and in a neighbor’s yard there were two varieties of trees that Muffly wanted Jobs to choose between. “There was a kind of tree that I wanted to use and one that was more common,” says Muffly. “I asked, Steve, which of those two trees do you prefer? He liked questions like that. And he looked up and he pointed to the one I wanted. I said, Thank you, Steve. That was a good answer.”

Like other aspects of Apple Park, the scale of the landscaping is immense with roughly 9,000 trees planned. What I like most about Levy’s piece though, is that it adds a face, personality, and story to those huge numbers.