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Design

Inside Apple's Massive $5 Billion "Spaceship" Headquarters

June 16, 2022

What’s in this Blog?

  • Introduction
  • Budget Overrun
  • Sustainability
  • Features
  • Steve Jobs Theatre
  • Visitor's Center

Introduction

Apple Park aerial view during construction in August 2016

What looks like a giant spaceship parked in the lush flats of Cupertino, California, is actually tech giant Apple's new HQ, fittingly named the Apple Park. This stunning architecture sprawls across 176 acres of land and might just be one of the most stunning campuses in the world.

Apple Park | Design, History, Layout

Despite its incredibly futuristic looks, the Apple Park has been a long time in the making, with Steve Jobs first announcing the project way back in 2006. It took 8 long years of planning, proposals, and permit applications, but by 2014 construction was well underway – and by 2017, the vast apple workforce was already starting to move in.

The massive ring-shaped building is now an iconic symbol of the Apple brand and is a fantastic testament to the company's dedication to effortless design, sustainability, and the future of technology.

Budget Overrun

apple-park-photo-1-building-trees
The "Spaceship" Rings

It was originally estimated that the campus would cost just half a billion dollars to put together. However the land alone cost 160 million dollars and the cost quickly started to overrun. By 2011, the budget in place had multiplied to a little under 3 billion and when it was all said and done Apple were looking at a bill closer to 5.

5 billion is a big sum of money for any company to justify. Any company except apple that is who's currently worth two trillion dollars and is estimated to profit around 60 billion dollars by the end of this year alone. So where was all that money spent and what makes the Apple Park so incredible?

Sustainability

Apple's headquarters, facilities now powered by 100 percent renewable  energy - ABC News
Solar Panels on the roof of The Ring

For starters, the campus is made up of multiple buildings. However, 80 percent of the land is still considered to be green space. Apple and the designers put a lot of effort into making the park fit seamlessly into nature, planting over 9000 drought resistant trees throughout the grounds including cherry apricot olive and of course a few varieties of apple to encourage workers to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The grounds feature 3.2 kilometers worth of various walking and running trails as well as 1000 bikes that can be used to commute between the buildings. Other lifestyle facilities include a gym, wellness center and a couple of basketball courts. There's also a huge two-story yoga studio where the desk jockeys can wind down and ease out their back pain. The campus really does look after its staff and the environment too.

All of the buildings are incredibly eco-friendly with the main ring construction being home to one of the world's largest rooftop solar farms. The solar covered roof generates up to 17 megawatts of power which is enough to meet 75 percent of the campus’ energy demand during peak times. The rest of the campus's needs are met by on-site fuel cells powered by biofuel or natural gas.

The main building also utilizes a natural ventilation system, meaning that it doesn't use traditional heating and cooling methods for nine months of the year. Furthering the space's green credentials.

Features

The design team at Apple benefits from in-person work. Image source: Wallpaper
Apple's Design Team

Nicknamed the spaceship or the ring the central circular building is quite a sight to behold, sitting four stories high it has over 1.2 million square feet of office space and enough room to accommodate up to 12000 members of staff. To bring the outside world in, the design has incorporated a lot of glass into the building and the construction even features the largest curved glass panes in the world. There are 800 of the 45 foot tall curved glass panels around the building's exterior and around 3000 smaller panels to be found within the low energy LEDs.

Natural sunlight and sheer amount of see-through material make the spaceship a stunningly bright place to be, which i'm sure is great at keeping the 12,000 staff members feeling energized throughout their long working days despite being hidden from sight.

One of the most amazing spaceship features, happens to be found deep underground. The main ring is one of the few buildings in the world to make use of base isolation which protects the ring from even the worst of californian earthquakes.

Inside Apple Park: the design team shaping future tech | Wallpaper*

The isolation system is made up of 692 huge stainless steel plates, which allow the building to shift up to four feet in any given direction, without causing any structural damage. Also to be found underground is an expansive parking area and road network, that's completely hidden from site. Putting these amenities underground was an absolute necessity in order to maximize the green space in and around the apple park.

Other features to be found around the campus, include seven cafes with the largest being sprawled across three levels with enough seating for three thousand people. The huge catering team says it has enough capacity to feed around fifteen thousand people every lunchtime. So there's definitely some growing room if apple decides to expand its already huge workforce.

Instagram Photos From Inside Apple Park
A View of the Cafeteria

Also within the parks grounds is the inspiring apple auditorium, now known as the Steve Jobs Theatre. The spectacular circular glass building mirrors the spaceship in its form and is topped with the world's largest carbon fiber roof. The theater includes a 42 foot high glass elevator that takes guests underground to the 1000 seat auditorium. Made from chemically tempered glass the elevator is also considered to be the tallest freestanding glass elevator in the world.

Other buildings dotted around the park, include a one hundred thousand square foot fitness center, two 300,000 square foot research and development facilities, a care clinic and the visitors center, which happens to be the only building in the entire park that guests can visit without a pass.

Steve Jobs Theatre

Steve Jobs Theater | Hospitality | Foster + Partners
An exterior view of Steve Jobs Theatre

Officially known as the Steve Jobs Theater, after the co-founder and former CEO of Apple, the facility is located atop a hill on the campus. It is an underground, 1,000-seat auditorium intended for Apple product launches and press meets. It has a large above-ground cylinder-shaped lobby with stairs down to the auditorium. The theater has 350 parking spaces and a pedestrian path leading to the main campus located northwest of the theater.

Foster + Partners releases photos of Apple's Steve Jobs Theater Pavilion

The theater's lobby has cylindrical-shaped glass walls and no support columns, which give an unhindered 360-degree view of the surrounding campus. The 80-short-ton (73-metric-ton) carbon-fiber roof, made of 44 identical panels, was supplied by the Dubai-based company, Premier Composite Technologies. Each panel is 70 ft (21 m) long and 11 ft (3.4 m) wide and locks in the middle with the other panels. It is the largest carbon-fiber roof and the largest glass-supported structure in the world.

A look inside the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's spaceship campus | Ars  Technica
Staircase leading to the auditorium

A Panoramic View of the Auditorium

The theater also includes a 42-foot (13 m) high glass elevator that rotates 171 degrees from the bottom floor to the upper lobby level. The elevator is made from chemically tempered glass, and is considered to be the tallest free-standing, glass elevator in the world.

Visitor's Center

Apple Park Visitor Center - Apple Store - Apple

The Apple Park visitor center is all under one roof, but is divided into four very special sections. A 10,000 square foot apple store, filled with the latest apple products, a 2,000 square foot cafe an observation deck, where you can look over the campus and a designated AR experience area.

The area includes a scale model of the entire apple park offering visitors an employer's look at life on campus. The apple park is so full of amazing features and amenities more so than almost any other work environment in the world. Apple has thought of everything from their environmental footprint to keeping their workforce full up with food, leisure and creativity.

Foster + Partners' Apple Park Visitor Center opens to the public
A Scaled Model of Apple Park in the Visitor's Center

There have been a few complaints about the open plan office spaces with some workers saying that, they are distracting, counterproductive and removes opportunity for privacy, but still the futuristic facility has been incredibly well received and has set a new world standard in how amazing a work environment can truly be.

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