Apple’s biggest project ever has been 13 years in the making. It’s finally ready.
Wired released the first walkthrough taken by writer, Steven Levy, and infamous Apple designer, Johnathan (Jony) Ive. The history of this campus is rooted in the vision Steve Jobs had for Apple.
Jobs’ vision shaped the campus at each step, with an architect recalling the input Jobs had – “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 grey hair, going, ‘Holy shit!’”.
One of Levy’s exchanges with Ive sets the tone for the piece, and for the campus itself –
“This might be a stupid question,” I say. “But why do you need a four-story glass door?”
Ive raises an eyebrow. “Well,” he says. “It depends how you define need, doesn’t it?”
Some of the biggest and best features of the $USD 5 billion project look – on the surface – to be mere decoration. But when you consider that Ives’ ethos of design is about so much more than simply what is necessary, the bigger picture presents itself.
Giant glass doors
The sliding glass doors along the exterior of the café extend the full four stories of the building. Weighing 440,000 pounds each, they open and close quietly via mechanisms hidden underground.
Apple’s penchant for big, showy glass is no surprise. Look at any Apple store.
The building’s exterior fins use recent design discoveries to avoid those ugly dried rain streaks, so the kilometres of glass will be kept pristine with little human effort.
Jobs did his best thinking during long walks in nature, and he envisioned a tree-filled campus where Apple workers could find inspiration in what one architect calls Jobs’ “idealised California.” Apple will plant almost 9,000 trees, all of them drought-tolerant so that they can survive a climate crisis.
To withstand earthquakes, the Ring is mounted on huge steel base isolators that ensure the building can move up to 4.5 feet in any direction without losing its vital services. “I love that the ambition was about more than just surviving,” Ive says. “The building could still function.”
Here’s some insight into what can be achieved with 13 years of work.