Apple's spaceship campus revealed
By Vincent Rice
August 17, 2011
With the success that Apple has achieved over the past decade, it's perhaps no surprise that it has outgrown its original "Infinite Loop" campus and is in need of a new flagship headquarters to bring the teams together under one roof. Since Steve Jobs will undoubtedly have been the driving force behind the building's conceptual design and hey, it's Apple, the architecture for the new campus is unlike anything else ever built. Indeed, Apple saw fit to engage London-based über-architect Sir Norman Foster and his team, a company known for its unashamedly modern, hi-tech and unique approaches to large buildings such as the Stanstead and Hong Kong airports, the American Air Museum, the Berlin Reichstag, the Dallas Opera House, The Smithsonian and part of the World Trade Center re-development. The statistics of the proposed building are staggering.
The diameter of the ring is 1,615 feet (492.25 meters), which makes it wider than the Pentagon. The circumference will be nearly a mile (1.6 km) and the planned office floor space is 2.8 million square feet (260,128.5 sq m) including a 300,000 square foot (27,870.9 sq m) research facility. That's enough space for 12-13,000 workers - in comparison, Infinite Loop houses only 3,500 engineers at present. There will also be space for their cars underneath the ring and in an additional low-rise structure, though Apple already runs 20 bio-fuel buses for its employees and intends to extend the initiative.
A separate 1,000-seater underground auditorium (for product announcements to the media, undoubtedly), fitness center and natural gas-burning power generation plant complete the plan. The campus will be self-sufficient for power, with the national grid acting only as a back-up. Apple, and Steve Jobs in particular, was stung by criticism of its green credentials from environmental groups some years ago, so you can be sure that a mix of state-of-the-art green technologies will be employed to control the building's environment ... something that Foster + Partners and the building engineers Arup reportedly have long experience in.
The 150-acre (60.7 hectare) site was mostly purchased from Hewlett Packard (Jobs' very first employer) and Apple intends to make almost 80 percent of the site into green landscape, with an extra 2,300 trees. No structure is over four stories high, and the use of glass and the extensive planting means the building should blend well into its surroundings, considering the size.
It should be stressed that at this time this is a planning application only. Steve Jobs, however, commended the plan to the Cupertino City Council in person, describing it as a "landed spacecraft" and "a shot at creating the best office building in the world." Later, Cupertino's Mayor Gilbert Wong remarked, "there is no chance we are saying no!" Apple is hoping to move on to the new campus in 2015.