Steve Jobs’ final big idea comes to life
It is the giant ring bigger than the Pentagon and is designed with the obsession with detail that is behind every iPhone — right down to the toilets.
This is the building where Apple will create its next big thing.
The Apple “Spaceship” that will soon be home to 12,000 employees is set to be the world’s next architectural icon.
Four months before his death in 2011, Jobs’ final public event was not standing on a stage promising “one more thing” as he might have wished, but rather sitting at a desk putting the case for the new Apple campus to the Cupertino council in California.
Jobs told the council of his vision for the building, alongside the 280 freeway, on the site of a former Hewlett-Packard headquarters.
“We do have a shot at building the best office building in the world,” he said with trademark hyperbole.
“It’s a little like a spaceship landed.”
Apple, in typical secretive fashion, has not put a price tag on the building’s construction, although estimates have ranged from $3 billion in 2011, all the way up to $5 billion, according to MacWorld.co.uk.
Nicknamed the Spaceship during its construction, the 70-hectare site that opens to Apple employees next month has been formally named Apple Park.
Its details are stunning at both ends of the scale, from the world’s largest panels of curved glass that make up the walls to the smallest details such as the design of the door handles that reportedly took 18 months of meetings to choose and involved measurements down to the nanometer.
Reports of the brief to the building’s architects show how Jobs’ insistence on perfection in design has extended from Apple’s products to its headquarters.
No seam, gap or paintbrush was allowed to show; every wall, floor and ceiling had to be highly polished and the wood used in fittings had to be a specific type of maple and only the wood from the heart of each tree was allowed to be used.
The 3.7 miles of glass used on the exterior walls was bent and framed in Germany, using machines specially designed for this project, and then shipped over.
The campus is more than just the iconic four-story-high ring of glass.
It also has a stage from where Tim Cook will unveil the next iPhone in a 1,000-seat Steve Jobs Theatre built under a man-made hill beneath a glass cylinder entrance that is a 20 feet high and 165 feet wide.
Apple’s fitness focus, which is evident in the Apple Watch, extends to the building, with a “wellness center,” reportedly costing nearly $100 million, able to cater to Apple’s 20,000 employees who work in Silicon Valley.
The British architect firm Foster+Partners, who designed the building, also boast major projects including Wembley Stadium, London’s Millennium Bridge and New York’s Heart Tower.
Foster+Partners chairman Norman Forster has said the inspiration for the design was a London square where houses surround a park, although Jobs’ appreciation of the Main Quad at Stanford is also cited as a reference point.
The main building has a 17-megawatt solar rooftop, making it one of the largest on-site solar energy installations in the world.
It is also one of the world’s largest naturally ventilated buildings, designed to run for nine months of the year without heating or cooling.
The site is 80 percent green space and has been planted with 7,000 native plants and fruit trees including 1,000 trees dug up on the original site and stored during construction.