And while the company has long been notorious for internal secrecy, compartmentalizing its projects on a need-to-know basis, jobs seemed to be proposing a more porous structure where ideas would be more freely shared across common spaces. Not totally open, of course—ives design studio, for instance, would be shrouded by translucent glass—but more open than Infinite loop. At first, we had no idea what Steve was actually talking about with these pods. But he had it all mapped out: a space where you could concentrate one minute and then bump into another group of people in the next, behling says. And how many restaurants should we have? One restaurant, a huge one, forcing everyone to get together. You have to be able to bump into each other. In part Jobs was expanding on a concept that he had developed while helping design the headquarters of another company he ran—Pixar—that nudged collaboration by forcing people to stroll longer than usual to the restrooms.
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The meetings often lasted for five or essay six hours, consuming a significant amount of time in the last two years of Jobs life. He could be scary when he swooped down on a detail he demanded. At visit one point, behling recalls, jobs discussed the walls he had in mind for the offices: 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. We were all sitting there, architects with gray hair, going, holy shit! 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, and the key to that would be modular sections, known as pods, for work or collaboration. Jobs 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. They would be distributed democratically. Not even the ceo would get a suite or a similar incongruity.
As Jobs spoke, foster furiously sketched in the A4 sketchbook he is never without, creating a word picture of what Jobs was envisioning. His touchstone was the quad at Stanford, foster says, referring to the main part of the schools campus where low-slung academic buildings, arranged around large, leafy outdoor areas and designed with open-air pathways where one can walk along the structures edges, offer the sensation. Foster soon brought in reinforcements from his London-based firm, foster partners, for the first of many meetings Jobs would have with a growing team of architects. Though he always professed to loathe nostalgia, jobs based many of his ideas on his favorite features of the bay area of his youth. His briefing was all about California—his idealized California, says Stefan Behling, a foster partner who became one of the project leads. The site Apple had bought was an industrial retrolisthesis park, largely covered by asphalt, but Jobs envisioned hilly terrain, with sluices of walking paths. He again turned to Stanford for inspiration by evoking the dish, a popular hiking area near the campus where rolling hills shelter a radio telescope.
I think it was in Hyde park, he says. When we used to go to london together, wed spend a nurse lot of time in these parks. We began talking about a campus where your primary sense was that you were in parkland, with many elements that were almost collegiate—where the connection between what was built and a parkland was immediate, no matter where you were. The discussions continued and widened throughout the company, but it wasnt until 2009 that Apple was ready to actually move on the project. Though vacant land in Cupertino is rare, apple had purchased 75 acres barely a mile from Infinite loop, its current headquarters. The company began to seek out the right architectural firm to take on the task, and Jobs came to focus on Norman Foster, a pritzker Prize winner whose commissions have included the berlin reichstag, the hong Kong airport, and Londons infamous Gherkin tower. Jobs called Foster in July 2009 and told him, in Fosters recollection, that Apple needed some help. Norman Foster, one of Apple parks architects, had 250 people working on the project at its height. Two months later Foster arrived in Cupertino and spent an entire day with Jobs, first at his office at Infinite loop and later at his home in Palo Alto, and discovered that his new client had a remarkably detailed vision of the glass, steel, stone.
It makes for an impressive statistic, but you dont live in an impressive statistic. While it is a technical marvel to make glass at this scale, thats not the achievement. The achievement is to make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk. The value, he argues, is not what went into the building. Its what will come out. A ring was not what Jobs had in mind when he first started talking about a new campus. Ive thinks it was around 2004 when he and his boss first began discussing a reimagined headquarters.
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But why do resume you need a four-story glass door? Ive raises an eyebrow. It depends how you define need, doesnt it? We go upstairs, and I take in the view. From planes descending to sfo, and even from drones that buzz the building from a hundred feet above it, the ring looks like an ominous icon, an expression of corporate power, and a what-the-fuck oddity among the malls, highways, and more mundane office parks. But peering out the windows and onto the vast hilly expanse of the courtyard, all of that peels away. It feels peaceful, even amid the clatter and rumble of construction.
It turns out that when you turn a skyscraper on its side, all of its bullying power dissipates into a humble serenity. For the next two hours, ive and Whisenhunt walk me through other parts of the building and the grounds. They describe the level of attention devoted to every detail, the willingness to search the earth for the right materials, and the obstacles overcome to achieve perfection, all of which would make sense for an actual Apple consumer product, where production expenses could be amortized. But the ring is.8-million-square-foot one-off, eight years in the making and with a customer base of 12,000. How can anyone justify this spectacular effort? Its frustrating to talk about this building in terms of absurd, large numbers, ive says.
Inside the 755-foot tunnel, the white tiles along the wall gleam like a recently installed high-end bathroom; its what the lincoln Tunnel must have looked like the day it opened, before the first smudge of soot sullied its walls. And as we emerge into the light, the ring comes into view. As the jeep orbits it, the sun glistens off the buildings curved glass surface. The canopies—white fins that protrude from the glass at every floor—give it an exotic, retro-future feel, evoking illustrations from science fiction pulp magazines of the 1950s. Along the inner border of the ring, there is a walkway where one can stroll the three-quarter-mile perimeter of the building unimpeded.
Its a statement of openness, of free movement, that one might not have associated with Apple. And thats part of the point. Since 1997, jonathan ive has overseen the design of every Apple product—including the companys new headquarters. We drive through an entrance that takes us under the building and into the courtyard before driving back out again. Since its a ring, of course, there is no main lobby but rather nine entrances. Ive opts to take me in through the café, a massive atrium-like space ascending the entire four stories of the building. Once its complete, it will hold as many as 4,000 people at once, split between the vast ground floor and the balcony dining areas. Along its exterior wall, the café has two massive glass doors that can be opened when its nice outside, allowing people to dine al fresco. This might be a stupid question, i say.
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Of course ive seen images report of it, architectural equivalents of movie trailers for a much-awaited blockbuster. From the day jobs presented to the cupertino city council, digital renderings of the ring, as Apple calls the main building, have circulated widely. As construction progressed, enterprising drone pilots began flying their aircraft overhead, capturing aerial views in slickly edited videos accompanied by new Agey soundtracks. Amid all the fanboy anticipation, though, Apple has also taken some knocks for the scale and scope of the thing. Investors urging Apple to kick back more of its bounty to shareholders have questioned whether the reported 5 billion in construction costs should have gone into their own pockets instead of a workplace striving for history. And the campuss opening comes at a point when, despite stellar earnings results, Apple has not launched a breakout product since jobs death. Apple executives want us to know how cool its new campus is—thats why they invited. But this has also led some people to sniff that too much of its mojo has been devoted to giant glass panels, custom-built door handles, and a 100,000-square-foot fitness and wellness center complete with a two-story yoga room covered in stone, from just the right.
At 50, Apples design chieftain still looks like the rugby player he once was, and he remains, despite fame, fortune, and a knighthood, the same soft-spoken Brit I met almost 20 years ago. We are both wearing white hard hats with a silver Apple logo above the brim; ives is personalized with Jony underneath the iconic symbol. Dan Whisenhunt, the companys head of facilities and a de facto manager of the project, comes with. He too has a personalized hat. It is an active construction site on a tight deadline—the first occupants are supposedly moving in within 30 days of my visit, with 500 new employees arriving every week thereafter—and I felt a bit like one of the passengers on the first ride into jurassic. We drive up North Tantau avenue, past the buildings that sale will house employees not fortunate enough to sit in the campuss main headquarters, as well as the half-finished visitors center. Only a few years ago, most of the space was a flat parking lot, but today huge berms—artificial hills—hug the road, blocking views of busy wolfe road and Interstate 280 and forming a rolling landscape with hundreds of trees, their roots half-buried in wooden boxes. We drive around campus and turn into the entrance of a tunnel that will take us to the ring.
enable the company to stay in the california township. Otherwise, it could sell off its current properties and take its people with it, maybe to someplace nearby, like mountain view. That unpleasantness out of the way, the speaker was able to return to the subject of what he would create. I think we do have a shot, he told the council, of building the best office building in the world. What he didnt tell them—during what none of them could have known would be his last public appearance—is that he was not just planning a new campus for the company he cofounded, built, left, returned to, and ultimately saved from extinction. Through this new headquarters, Steve jobs was planning the future of, apple itself—a future beyond him and, ultimately, beyond any. Steve jobs makes his pitch for Apples new campus at a june 2011 Cupertino city council meeting. On a crisp and clear March day, more than five years after Jobs death, Im seated next to jonathan ive in the back of a jeep Wrangler as we prepare to tour the nearly completed Apple park, the name recently bestowed on the campus that.
When it was his turn to address the council, he walked to the podium. He began to speak, tentative at first before clicking into the conversational yet hypnotically compelling tone he used in keynotes. His company, he said, had grown like a weed. His workforce had increased significantly over a decade, coming to fill more than 100 buildings as workers created one blockbuster product after another. To consolidate his employees, he wanted to create a new campus, a verdant landscape where the border between nature and building would be blurred. Unlike other corporate campuses, which he found kites pretty boring, this would feature as its centerpiece a master structure, shaped like a circle, that would hold 12,000 employees. Its a pretty amazing building, he told them.
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M - gdpr, hello! Patch is currently unavailable in most European locations. We are working on a technical compliance solution, and hope to be able to provide our local journalism offerings to eu readers soon. Inside Apples Insanely, great (or Just Insane new Mothership. Inside Apples Insanely Great (or Just Insane) New Mothership by Steven levy photographs by dan Winters. Before the start of the meeting, Kris Wang, a cupertino councilmember, looked out the window at the back of the room and saw him walking toward the building. He moved with obvious difficulty, wearing the same outfit he had been seen in the day before when hed introduced new products to the world—which is to say, the same outfit that anyone had ever seen him wear.