Hot on the heels of last week’s announcement that Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference is moving to San Jose from San Francisco, Apple today announced that the ‘Apple Park’ campus will open April.
The way Apple is announcing this news illustrates just how deeply the company sees these new offices as a memorial to founder, Steve Jobs.
That’s incredibly appropriate, given Jobs got his first summer job at HP on the site, when he was around 13-years old.
“Steve would have turned 62 this Friday, February 24. To honor his memory and his enduring influence on Apple and the world, the theater at Apple Park will be named the Steve Jobs Theater,” the company said.
Jobs was famed for taking walks with others while making big decisions.
For example, the design of the award-winning ‘sunflower’ iMac was conceived when Jobs and Jony Ive walked in Laurene Powell Jobs’ gardens.
“Instead of looking like the old iMac, the thing should look more like the flowers in the garden,” Jobs said.
Apple’s genius co-founder liked his nature analogies. In one of his final public acts, when he proposed Apple’s new headquarters building to Cupertino City Council, Jobs said, "Apple is growing like a weed. It's clear we need to build a new campus."
Six months to move them all
Set in 175-acres, Apple’s new ‘spaceship’ HQ will hold around 12,000 employees once the move to the new offices is complete.
Moving all these people into the company’s posh new office buildings will take around six months. Work will also continue landscaping and the construction of parkland around the site across summer, the company said today.
“Steve was exhilarated, and inspired, by the California landscape, by its light and its expansiveness. It was his favorite setting for thought. Apple Park captures his spirit uncannily well,” said Laurene Powell Jobs. “He would have flourished, as the people of Apple surely will, on this luminously designed campus.”
As a zillion drone videos show, the campus’ ring-shaped, 2.8 million-square-foot main construction is wrapped in the world’s largest panels of curved glass.
‘It’s pretty cool’
The curved glass design was itself a Steve Jobs promise.
Way back when he proposed the HQ, back when the site was all abandoned buildings and tarmac, he said:
“There is not a straight piece of glass in this building, it's all curved. We used our experience making retail buildings all over the world now, and we know how to make the biggest pieces of glass in the world for architectural use. We want to make the glass specifically for this building here. We can make it curve all the way around the building. It's pretty cool.”
The Steve Jobs Theater is a 20-foot-tall glass cylinder, 165 feet in diameter, supporting a metallic carbon-fiber roof.
Company architects have chosen to put this space on top of a hill at one of the highest points of the park. This means the co-founder’s memorial can see and be seen overlooking meadows and the main building.
“Steve’s vision for Apple stretched far beyond his time with us. He intended Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come,” said Apple CEO, Tim Cook.
“The workspaces and parklands are designed to inspire our team as well as benefit the environment. We’ve achieved one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world and the campus will run entirely on renewable energy.”
(It is powered by 17 megawatts of rooftop solar).
Take a look at the below video taken during the construction. (The background track is Bombogenesis by Photay, by the way).
Pointing out that the company has attached the same rigor to designing the HQ as the company does to its products, Jobs’ close friend and partner in design, Jony Ive, stressed the advanced nature of the design process.
“Connecting extraordinarily advanced buildings with rolling parkland creates a wonderfully open environment for people to create, collaborate and work together,” he said.
The park will also contain two miles of walking and running paths for employees, plus an orchard, meadow and pond within the ring’s interior grounds.
There will be a 100,000-square-foot fitness center for Apple employees, and – perhaps the best secured part of the entire site – “secure research and development facilities”. (I guess there will never be any heavily disguised iPhone prototype left in a bar ever again).
One more thing: Apple will be accepting visitors. Not only will there be a café on site that’s open to the public, but the campus will include a visitor’s center with an Apple Store.
This means the world will be able to decide if Apple has managed to keep Steve Jobs’ promise to Cupertino City Council, when he said:
"I think we do have a shot at building the best office building in the world. And I really do think architecture students will come here to see this. I think it could be that good."
I’m guessing developers attending WWDC this year will be among the first members of Apple's wider public to take a look.
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