Cupertino / DPA
When it’s Apple, you know it’s going to be big and bold. And so it is with its new headquarters or “Spaceship Campus,” which will cover 260,000 square meters and has a circumference of 1.6 kilometres in Cupertino, California. Computer-generated images of what it will look like show something resembling a giant glass doughnut, with a green hole in the middle, which is supposed to make workers feel like they’re working in a park.
There’ll be a 1,000-seat underground auditorium, where new Apple products will be presented. The basement garage will have room for 10,000 cars.
The building will also sit on top of hundreds of “base isolators” which mean the foundations will move with the ground during an earthquake. The building on top will be isolated and experience only slight movement, making it “earthquake proof.”
Top British architect Norman Foster, who restyled Wembley Stadium in London as well as Berlin’s Reichstag, is in charge.
But the costs have exploded from a planned 3 billion dollars to an estimated 5 billion, though Apple won’t give any exact figures. Drone videos of the building site have popped up continuously on the internet.
Recently TV veteran Charlie Rose was allowed to officially visit the site for CBS’ 60 Minutes programme with Apple’s chief designer Tony Ive.
The building, or AC2, short for Apple Campus 2, is supposed to be ready by the end of 2016. But the company will also keep its current headquarters, with its legendary “1 Infinite Loop” address, where 25,000 people work.
It’s a big thing for a suburban-sprawl place like Cupertino, which had been incorporated as a city just 21 years earlier when Steve Jobs founded Apple in 1976. It now has 60,000 inhabitants.
“Apple could have built its second campus anywhere, we’re proud that it’s remained faithful to Cupertino,” says city spokesman Rick Kitson. But Kitson’s also aware of the problems that the new building could create.
Traffic will likely get worse. The site is next to the busy I-280 freeway. Even if Apple, as promised, increases its own transport network for employees, it will only mean more white shuttle buses driving back and forth between Cupertino and San Francisco. The buses have become an emblem of gentrification in the region.
House prices will also rise and the whole Silicon Valley will become more developed, losing something of its character. Apple isn’t the only tech company building in the area. Facebook opened its new headquarters 25 kilometres away in 2015 and Google is also planning several new buildings.
“There’s an 18-month waiting list for cranes at the moment,” says Chad Leiker of commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews. “Most buildings in the Bay Area were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They’ve since become economically unusable. So the whole tech industry is building from scratch, though what Apple is doing beats everything.”