The new Apple headquarters, named Apple Park, is a single ring, about a mile in circumference, set in a large campus that will be covered in plants and trees.
The facility was designed with painstaking attention to detail to maximize opportunities for creativity and collaboration and to capture founder Steve Jobs’ complex vision for the space. Every detail has been carefully scrutinized, creating an end product that Apple hopes will foster even greater innovation.
Study of the Apple park under 10 categories:
1. Design Philosophy – Steve Job’s Vision
Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs once said that the new campus was “a shot at building the best office building in the world that could house 12000 employees.”
2. Location & History of site
Apple Park is the corporate headquarters of Apple Inc., located at 1 Apple Park Way in Cupertino, California, United States.
The land under Apple Park was HP’s (Hewlett-Packard) advanced products campus with 3700 trees, and majority covered in asphalt.
3. Design Concept
“One of the most memorable, and perhaps vital to the project, was Steve saying, ‘Don’t think of me as the client, think of me as part of your team.” -lead architect Norman Foster.
The design was partly inspired by the main quad on Stanford University’s campus, Foster said.
Jobs wanted a democratic workspace:
One of the most distinct aspects of Apple’s new headquarters is that it would house 12,000 employees in one structure. Fitting that many people in one building is a logistical hurdle that Apple believes will encourage collaboration between workers and between departments.
Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer says “the greatest achievement of the campus is that it is a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk.”
Jobs wanted the building to lie low to the ground to blend into the surrounding landscape to encourage the connection between indoors & outdoors.
Job’s aimed at achieving the below statistics for the new Apple campus:
4. Design Development
Many of the more expensive aspects of the campus were insisted upon by Jobs, who would hold five-hour-long meetings about the project even during his fight against cancer.
Jobs was obsessed with glass and wanted to encourage the connection between indoors and outdoors, going as far as to build a door in the campus’ restaurant that could completely open in 12 seconds, eliminating the barrier to the outside world. He knew exactly what timber he wanted, but not just ‘I like oak’ or ‘I like maple.’ He knew it had to be quarter-cut. It had to be cut in the winter, ideally in January, to have the least amount of sap and sugar content.
Before passing in 2011, Jobs admitted that his was not the most cost-effective approach. But ultimately, he believed that the future benefits would outweigh the cost. “I think the overall feeling of the place is going to be a zillion times better,” he said.
One fun fact about Apple Park: No dirt was removed from the site. For a while, there was a giant dirt pyramid on the site made out of all the earth that had been removed.”Hard to know which is more beautiful, the building or that pile of dirt,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told Vogue last year.
At times, the project pulled in 250 Foster + Partners architects, involving plenty of transatlantic travel and the set-up of a permanent outpost, working alongside Ive’s industrial design team. But if the details were worked out with Ive, the big vision also belonged to Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs, who first met with Norman Foster in 2009 and was much consumed by Apple Park during the last two years of his life (he passed away in 2011). That vision was of making work as much like a walk in the park as possible. More pragmatically, it was about bringing together a workforce housed in 100 separate buildings, then choreographing levels of integration and collaboration.
5. Master Plan
The campus was designed to be light and airy. It has additional underground parking hidden from view, meaning 80 per cent of the site can be covered by more than 9,000 trees.
6. Unbuilt Space
Inspired by the California landscape, Apple’s nature-forward approach to the campus’s design may sound like good PR, but science supports it. Studies suggest that spending time outside can improve cognition and creative thinking. Fittingly, Apple Park includes 9,000 trees and 5.9 million square feet of landscaping. A green courtyard in the middle of the facility will allow employees to walk through nature as they cut across campus.
Nursery where trees were planted before being shifted to the Apple Park site.
Apple decided to plant mature trees to make the campus green quicker. Many of those trees, especially inside the ring, are going to be fruit trees. In this diagram, the purple dots are plum trees, the orange dots are apricot tree, the brown dots are olive trees, the red dots are persimmon trees. And of course, the yellow dots are apple trees.
Apple has hired a leading arborist from Stanford University to help landscape the area and restore some of the indigenous plant life, including apricot orchards.
The company hopes that this eco-friendly setting will help spur the company’s next generation of breakthroughs. “Steve was exhilarated, and inspired, by the California landscape, by its light and its expansiveness,” he said. It was his favorite setting for thought. Apple Park captures his spirit uncannily well.
b. Access – Pathways & Roadways
1,000 bikes would be kept on the site and available to staff to get around the campus. Jony Ive has revealed that employees can travel on electric golf carts and commuter shuttles if they have a long way to go.
Two miles of walking and running paths for employees, underground parking plus an orchard, meadow and pond.
7. Built-up Space
Apple Park covers 2.8 million square feet, accommodates 12,000 employees and cost approximately $5 billion to build. The facility, designed by architecture firm Foster + Partners, includes a 100,000-square foot fitness center, an energy plant, 300,000-square foot R&D center and a 1,000-person auditorium & the main building.
a. Steve Jobs Theatre – Auditorium
The 20-foot tall and 165 foot in diameter auditorium was built for launch events and public presentations, named “Steve Jobs Theatre”. This auditorium is covered with a circular glass pavilion that will also be an access point for employees and guests. Above ground, the theatre is essentially a 165ft-diameter glass rotunda with no visible support.
The 1,000-seat auditorium itself boasts Poltrona Frau light-tan leather chairs, curved wooden floorboards and as much space behind stage as in front of it.
A network of 44 conduits, carrying electricity, data and sprinkler systems, is housed in three-quarter-inch strips of aluminium in-between the theatre’s glass surrounds. The carbon-fibre roof, tested, built and unbuilt in Dubai, was made the same way you make the hulls of racing yachts and weighs just 80 tons.
From the open space above ground, you descend to the auditorium on a curving limestone staircase with a carved, recessed handrail on one side and a gently angular stone slab on the other.
b. Main Building & Pods:
The most important facility is the ring-shaped building. The circular, four-storey building is around a mile in circumference and a third of a mile wide & has been compared to a spaceship. The building is essentially a 50 to 60 storey tower tipped on its side and twisted into a circle. But the tipping and twisting are everything.
The Ring is also less than 200ft deep, which means what might look looming and ominous from the outside is full of natural light on the inside and spirit-liftingly open to its surroundings. It structurally repeats itself eight times as you move around it. You can move around it along a three-quarter mile internal corridor on the inside edge of The Ring.
One of the building’s defining features is the 800, 45-feet tall panels of curved glass. The building will be uncommonly environmentally-friendly. It offers views of the park and the Santa Cruz mountains looking out and, as you look in, a 30-acre courtyard that will feature orchards and oak trees, a large pond, and pergolas for outside dining.
The view of the building’s inner rim also takes in the solar panelling on the roof, which will provide for 80 per cent of the building’s energy needs. Those panels, along with a natural ventilation system which, except in extreme conditions, keeps the building somewhere comfortably between 68 and 77°F, and other factors such as the use of recycled wood, mean the building has been certified LEED Platinum. About 4,300 concrete slabs help make up the natural ventilation system, according to Popular Science and help the building stay cool.
All the trees, as was the intention, mean that the 2.8 million sq ft new building never fully reveals itself. You see only sections and its giant curve is never apparent. Nor, given the elevation, are two of its four storeys.
The building will be divided into modular sections, known as pods, that will be used for office work, teamwork and social activities. Everyone from the CEO to summer interns will be placed into these pods, helping employees build connections and discover mentorship opportunities.
As with any Apple product, its shape would be determined by its function. This would be a workplace where people were open to each other and open to nature. Jobs seemed to be proposing a more porous structure where ideas would be more freely shared across common spaces. His idea was to repeat those pods over and over: pod for office work, pod for teamwork, pod for socializing, like a piano roll playing a Philip Glass composition.
Even the tables inside the building have been obsessed over. Apple commissioned custom tables from Arco, a Dutch furniture maker. Apple’s table of choice is an 18-foot-long and 4-foot-wide solid white oak slab that weighs 660 pounds.
The office space in The Ring is, within limits, configurable. Teams can choose if they want to work in individual offices or open spaces. Each floor in each segment has a central area with an oak meeting table and glass whiteboards that open to reveal huge TV screens. More random interaction is intended and engineered to happen in the circling corridor and on the staircases (there are 32 in the building). Each segment also houses a central atrium. The true hub of the building, though, is the café, with seating for 4,000 and one the biggest kitchens in the US. At the outside edge two 85 x 54ft moveable glass doors are designed to open the space up to the Bay Area’s natural benevolence.
The Ring is also a building that constantly reminds you that you are in a connected space, flat and flowing. They have managed to keep it to four storeys and you very much have a sense of space and a relationship with the built structure.
That is one of the reasons they have spent so much time on the stairs. There are so many connections between the floors. There are the light wells that go all the way down. You have visual connections to the floors and connections by the stairs.
Details in lighting fixtures
The building stays eco-friendly using natural ventilation that works instead of air-conditioning for 70 per cent of the year, low energy LED lighting where natural light doesn’t reach, and on-site recycling.
The late Apple CEO dictated everything from door handles to materials to the ultra-tight tolerances required throughout the building.
c. Visitor’s Center
The Visitor’s Center at Apple’s new Cupertino campus has opened to the public. As the public face of a vast complex designed by Foster + Partners, the independent building is “a uniquely designed architectural extension” of the company’s new headquarters. “With similar aesthetics in staircases, stone walls, and terrazzo floors,” the center’s “cantilevered carbon fiber roof appears to float,” supported only “by stone clad cores and no other extraneous columns for support.”
8. Green Building concepts
Natural gas will, primarily, provide the building’s power and the local energy grid will only be accessed in emergencies. An additional workspace adjacent to the main headquarters, includes a small data center powered by the on-site solar farm, fuel cells, and other sources of renewable energy.
A new micro-grid installed on the campus is reportedly capable of delivering 17 megawatts of power from solar alone, and handling about 75 percent of the facility’s power requirements. The solar installation is supplemented by Bloom Energy-provided fuel cells, similar to those installed at the North Carolina data center.
9. User Experience
While the building’s structure does have its benefits, it also has drawbacks. The ring structure will make the new campus difficult to navigate and inefficient.
Apple’s unwavering love for glass and seamless edges is one of the reasons designers flock in masses to purchase their products. But that aesthetic has caused a bit of a snafu at the company’s new Foster+Partners-designed headquarters in Cupertino, where employees are running into the highly transparent glass walls at an alarming rate.
Where Infinite Loop, Apple’s previous home, is a sprawl of separate buildings, The Ring is a unified whole. And it would be easy to see this new closed loop as Apple’s culture of secrecy made physical.
Criticism of the building’s hunkering insularity seems to misunderstand what it is there to do. It is a building about process. Ive is clear that for his design studio as for all Apple employees, it will mean a new way of working.
The building, though, is not a metaphor for open systems, or creative flow made concrete. It is a made object. Apple’s success has been built on higher-order industrialisation; not just designing beautiful objects that do all manner of new things but producing them in incredible numbers and at consistent quality. Its new building is, in some ways, the ultimate Apple product, in places using the same materials the company uses in its laptops and phones.
Content & Image courtesy: Google