To fans of Apple's (AAPL) proposed spaceship headquarters in Cupertino, the most important thing is that it will provide Silicon Valley with the landmark it's long lacked.

I'd suggest those fans, including my fellow columnist Scott Herhold, have been bamboozled by the company's infamous "reality distortion field."

Apple's new campus is going to be a traffic nightmare that offers little benefit to the surrounding community. Instead of being a symbol for Silicon Valley, it will be emblematic of urban planning gone way wrong.

Worse, the project can be characterized by a word that will make Apple and its fans shudder: phony. The forest park surrounding the spaceship building, which seems to have captured the fans' imagination almost as much as the building itself, is as inauthentic as the felt and leather backgrounds that Apple recently excised from iOS, the software underlying the iPhone.

The forest is merely a fig leaf -- a greenwashing, if you will -- for a behemoth development that's too large for its neighborhood and designed without any consideration to its context. It's completely out of place.

Whatever the project's architectural merits, the spaceship building is going to be huge. At 2.8 million square feet, it will be one of the largest buildings in the country, more capacious even than the Empire State Building and more than five times larger than the Transamerica Pyramid.

Apple says the spaceship's actual footprint will be smaller than the existing buildings on the site, because its floor space will be spread across four stories. But there will be more to the campus than just the spaceship. Add up the buildings that will house the corporate fitness center, the parking garage and an auditorium, and you get nearly 6 million square feet of space, which is within spitting distance of the size of the Pentagon.

That size may be appropriate for a downtown metropolis or a rural setting with little else around it, but it doesn't belong smack dab in the middle of single-family homes and strip malls. Would you want the Empire State Building or the Pentagon in your backyard?

The new campus will accommodate 14,200 workers, some 12,000 in the spaceship alone. That's nearly three times the number of people who currently work in buildings on the 176-acre site. Is it any wonder that the environmental report commissioned by the city of Cupertino expects widespread and severe traffic problems around the proposed site?

Drivers can expect backups not only near the Interstate 280 offramps to Wolfe Road, which runs alongside the proposed site, but also on area surface streets and all along I-280 from Winchester Boulevard all the way up to Foothill Expressway. So if you already are frustrated by traffic jams in the area, just wait until the Apple project gets built!

The traffic congestion will result not just from the large number of Apple employees but because of the lack of transportation alternatives available to them. The new headquarters will be far from the Caltrain or VTA rail lines that lead to San Francisco, San Jose and the Peninsula -- where the vast majority of Apple's workers live. Those folks will have little choice but to drive or ride the company's shuttle buses.

In addition to terrible traffic, neighbors can also expect to have Apple employees and visitors to the campus parking en masse in their neighborhood. That's because Apple is providing fewer than 11,000 parking spots on the campus for use by both employees and visitors.

Apple has promised to address some of the traffic problems. But many of the proposed solutions could take years to put in place.

And for all those traffic and parking problems, nearby residents can expect little benefit from the project. Those bucolic scenes of people walking through the forested grounds or eating lunch in the grass near the spaceship? Those will all be employees -- assuming they're able to break away from their desks. Apple says the campus will be closed to the public, and a fence around the perimeter of the property will guarantee that. The public won't even get to use a long-planned creek trail that would have run through the southeastern corner of the property, because Cupertino acquiesced to Apple's paranoid security concerns.

Area restaurants and shops shouldn't get too excited about having Apple move into the neighborhood, because employees are likely to stick to campus most of the time. Because the main building is set back from the street and the project is in a largely residential area, there are few retail businesses within easy walking distance. Also, Apple is doing what it can to encourage employees to stay on site, including a corporate fitness center and a large cafe inside the campus.

As for the great architectural icon that my colleague Scott salivates over, it's going to be largely invisible to the public, hidden behind all those trees. Sure, the outside world might be able to catch some glimpses of it from certain angles, but passers-by won't be able to see the entire building.

It will be a landmark that can't really be seen. All the public will see is the traffic mess it has caused.

Contact Troy Wolverton at 408-840-4285 or twolverton@mercurynews.com. Follow him at www.mercurynews.com/troy-wolverton or Twitter.com/troywolv.