Channeling Steve Jobs, Apple seeks design perfection at new 'spaceship' campus

Tue Feb 7, 2017 11:51am EST
 
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By Julia Love

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Inside the original Macintosh computer, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs inscribed the signatures of his team, revealing his deep concern for even the hidden features of his products.

His last work – Apple Inc's (AAPL.O: Quote) sprawling new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. - will be a fitting tribute: a futuristic campus built with astonishing attention to detail. From the arrangement of electrical wiring to the finish of a hidden pipe, no aspect of the 2.8 million-square-foot main building has been too small to attract scrutiny.

But constructing a building as flawless as a hand-held device is no easy feat, according to interviews with nearly two dozen current and former workers on the project, most of whom would not be named because they signed non-disclosure agreements.

Since Apple unveiled its plans in 2011, the move-in date has slowly receded: Jobs' initial projection was 2015, but this spring now seems most likely, according to people involved in the project. A lengthy approval process with the city contributed to the delay.

Apple has not revealed the total price tag, but former project managers estimate it at about $5 billion - a figure CEO Tim Cook did not dispute in a 2015 TV interview. More than $1 billion was allocated for the interior of the main building alone, according to a former construction manager.

For all the time and money sunk into the project, some in the architecture community question whether Apple has focused on the right ends. The campus is something of an exception to the trend of radically open offices aimed at fostering collaboration, said Louise Mozingo, a professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C. Berkeley. Its central office building – a massive ring of glass frequently likened to a spaceship – could be a challenge just to navigate, she noted.

"It's not about maximizing the productivity of the office space, it's about creating a symbolic center for this global company," she said. “They are creating an icon.”

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.   Continued...

 
The Apple Campus 2 is seen under construction in Cupertino, California in this aerial photo taken January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger