History of Apple Park, Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino

It is neither a spaceship nor a secret place where the US government has confined aliens from the universe. Apple Park is the iconic home of Apple since 2017. It is where most of the company’s research and daily routines take place and in this post we will try to tell you everything that is known about this particular building.

The great work of Steve Jobs

From 1992 to 2017, Apple had another residence that did not lag behind at all in terms of modernity. Apart from the obvious distances from the Apple Park, the firm on the block worked on the so-called Apple Campus on Infinite Loop Street , located in Cupertino and whose name has curiously been given to some styles of straps from the Apple Watch as a clear wink.

History of Apple Park, Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino
History of Apple Park, Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino

The place was comfortable and had the latest technological advances as it could not be otherwise in a company like Apple, but was insufficient for Steve Jobs. In 2006, Apple’s historic CEO announced the purchase of some land located on the outskirts of Cupertino. As always, Jobs left nothing to chance, as the land belonged to Hewlett-Packard. This was a company in which he worked as a young man doing an internship.

In 2011, Jobs finished by presenting a mega-project to the Cupertino Town Hall in which a previously unseen building structure was completely detailed. It was known as “The Ring” because of the shape of a ring that formed a perfect circumference, leaving in the middle some land in which it was later decided to install forests, lakes and gardens . It should be noted that the plan for this place was to make it suitable for earthquakes , which was finally achieved thanks to the insulation of 692 low steel pieces located in the foundations.

Many of the goals set by Jobs in his initial project were eventually rejected, while others were approved with great difficulty. The company had to make numerous efforts to estimate the total costs that a great work like that would have. Eventually the project was approved, but unfortunately Jobs had already passed away and could not witness how his great work was going to take shape.

There have been many products that have marked Jobs’ life and the history of the industry, but those closest to him have once said that the construction of the Apple Park was most precious to him. In a way it meant leaving his mark for posterity with something that would always stand. He probably wanted all those who went there to work or to visit to always remember his figure and the guidelines he set during his leadership. For some this will mean more or less depending on how they are linked to Apple, but surely no one is indifferent when they pass by the number 1 on the Apple Park Way.

Jonathan Ive, another essential agent

It is impossible to talk about any Apple design without mentioning Jonathan Ive, also known as Jony Ive. This Englishman by birth found his life’s work in the United States in 1992, when he joined the design team of the apple company. Since Jobs’ return in 1997, the two worked side by side on every design. In fact, Ive’s ingenuity has helped her extend her career as Apple’s chief designer until 2019, when she announced she was leaving the company to start her own.

Who said Apple Park isn’t a product? It’s the spitting image of what Apple stands for and as such it shouldn’t be anyway. That’s why Ive worked hard to make the company’s new headquarters innovative and truly different from anything seen before. He is not an architect, so he did not have the necessary knowledge for some parts, but the development of the idea was on his account and that of the prestigious firm Foster and Partners.

Interior room of the Apple Park

The interior decoration was also the responsibility of this man, who wanted to bring the minimalism of the Mac and iPhone to an office where hundreds of people work every day. There’s a lot of secrecy about what the interior of this Apple Park looks like, but those who have been able to tell us about it highlight how well designed everything is and how even the smallest detail has been taken into account, another example of Ive’s delicate and detailed work.

The brightness was something that was also taken into account a lot, as they wanted to have as much natural light as possible in every corner of this mega office. The circular shape of the ring, surrounded by windows, was very conducive to this. But if there is one thing that draws attention to each interior corner, it is that can be configured to the taste and needs of whoever is there. All this is achieved thanks to movable walls and doors that can create more open or more closed spaces depending on what is needed at the moment, something simple but certain.

Interior of the Apple Park ring, with concert stage

Even the design of the inner courtyard was captained by Ive according to Jobs. Something that was clear from the beginning was to maintain the nature that was in this area, so many trees were repopulated in the surroundings and even more than 9,000 were installed in the mentioned courtyard, to which a lake was also added. A beautiful way of preserving the ecosystem while creating a unique environment. As an anecdote, it is worth mentioning that on one occasion a stage was set up for a Lady Gaga concert.

Works and opening in 2017

Construction work on this ostentatious building began in 2013, the year in which the Cupertino City Council finally gave the green light to all plans. It is estimated that the costs were around 5,000 million dollars , a figure that reads very quickly, but which represents a brutal investment even for a giant like Apple. This served to position it as one of the most expensive buildings in history.

The bulk of the work was completed in the first half of 2017. The inauguration as such took place in April of that year, which is when the first employees began to settle there. However, an important part of the company continued working in the old office, as there were parts to be finished and it was not easy to move the whole human and technical structure to this building. Not for nothing, it is a building that consists of 464 square meters.

Satellite view of Apple Park during construction

Despite being a highly acclaimed destination by Apple fans, the truth is that the Apple Park is a private place . At least as far as the ring is concerned, which is where the company’s daily activities take place. Therefore, no public event was held for its opening. We do not know if any event took place in private, but what we do know is that many employees were impressed when they entered for the first time. In the end one must get used to seeing this type of place as normal when it becomes a routine visit, but it is not without its drawbacks for those who visit it for the first time.

Steve Jobs Theater, the icing on the cake

If you’re a regular at Apple’s keynote celebrations, you’ll have noticed that the place where most of them take place is the Steve Jobs Theater. This is a building located on the grounds of Apple Park, but away from the ring . From the outside it looks like a circular structure surrounded by glass everywhere. From the architectural point of view, it is striking how there is no pillar supporting the carbon fibre roof, having only the glass to keep everything standing.

Inside that ground floor there is a large hall with hardly anything more than an elevator and stairs, which lead to the key place of this building: the amphitheater. With marble stairs and a design on a par with the Apple Park, you can reach this room that has a capacity of 1.00 people. The stage has a giant screen that serves as a guide in each act of the company, as when new iPhones are presented annually.

Exterior and interior of the Steve Jobs Theater

The name of the theatre is not chosen at random, but serves as a small tribute from the company to the once most illustrious founder and CEO who led them to their greatest success. On September 12, 2017 the doors were opened for the first time to the press for the iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3 launch event. Prior to the start of this event, Tim Cook addressed a few emotional words in memory of Steve Jobs.

While it is true that the company eventually turns to other buildings and cities for some events, the Steve Jobs Theater is still the main one. It is only open to the public at those events, although not just any audience can attend on those days. Only those who have been previously accredited can pass, generally people who work in the media or who have been invited by Apple as they are public figures or of special relevance to the company.

Awards and other recognition

In late 2018, it was announced that Apple had won a major architectural industry award for the design of the Steve Jobs Theater. Specifically, it was the Structural Artistry Award that was presented to him. This institution recognized the project as a masterpiece of architecture because of its construction that was able to transform the vision and skill of the engineers into something exceptional.

Steve Jobs Theater at night

In addition to the structure without beams, this building also stood out for specific characteristics such as the following:

  • Excellence – features that take the structural engineering solution beyond the ordinary, including demonstrable examples of how the structural design allowed the project to meet or exceed the client’s expectations
  • Creativity and innovation: examples of originality and the application of new and improved technologies and processes in structural design, particularly when these have led to greater efficiency and economy in the solution.
  • Elegance and details: engineering structures that demonstrate technical and/or visual elegance, even in the attention to detail, or that contribute to the elegance of the overall design solution.
  • Sustainability: structural solutions that implement sustainable techniques and technologies, as demonstrated through efficiency, material specification, recycling and reuse, socio-economic factors, carbon footprint reduction and other factors.
  • Value: economic viability and value for money in the structural solution, as well as non-financial value indicators.

Beyond this award, there have been numerous voices from the public sector that have praised the construction of Apple Park in general. Some of those who have been able to visit it, either on the outside or on the inside, highlight the impressive sensation produced by approaching the building, especially because the size of the building is larger than it might appear on a photo.

Visitor’s Centre

There are many Apple stores in the world, but if there’s one special one above the rest, it’s the one in this place. It’s known as the visitors center, and it’s a building attached to the ring that has a similar design to the Steve Jobs Theater. Instead of being round, it has a more oval shape, but it also has a carbon fiber roof and a glass main structure. It is the only visitable place in the Apple Park for those who wish to visit it.

Inside you can find company products for sale such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac, but also other exclusive souvenirs such as caps and T-shirts. In these objects you can find texts referring to the fact that they have been bought in the Apple Park, something that is not insignificant if we take into account that there is no other way to buy them if not in this same place. In this place you can even order a coffee, something that does not happen in other stores except in special events such as launches.

In addition to the store, the site has a space where you can see a interactive 3D model of the campus that forms the Apple Park. Through augmented reality technology, visitors can discover all the secrets of this place. On the other hand, it has a terrace where they can enjoy the immensity of the space in which they are, with the ring of the headquarters in the background and the trees as protagonists.

Technical specifications

Once we have known a little more about some aspects of the Apple Park, we leave you with a summary of these and some other technical data that you may be interested in knowing.

LocationApple Park Way 1, Cupertino (California – United States)Futuristic styleIdeologistsSteve Jobs and Jonathan IveArchitectsFoster and PartnersEngineersArrupCost of land160,000,000 dollarsTotal cost of construction5. 000,000,000 dollarsStart of workNovember 2013Completion of workApril 2017Surface area260,000 square metresLand area71 hectaresRing diameter464 metresCircumference1.6 kilometresNumber of floors4

And you, what do you think of Apple Park? You can leave your impressions in the comment box.

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