From drone videos to the multibillion price tag: here's everything you need to know about Apple Park, the firm's amazing new 'Spaceship' campus headquarters
By Amy Moore
Welcome to our complete guide to Apple Park, the extravagant, multibillion-dollar new campus headquarters that the company has almost finished building in Cupertino, California. It’s an impressive building – but
not everyone is happy.
Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world, so it’s no surprise that it is fast outgrowing its current headquarters at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California. As a result, Apple has spent years building a new HQ. (It’s since announced plans for
a second campus, incidentally.)
The new campus is officially named Apple Park. (Before this was announced, the building was widely known as the ‘Spaceship Campus’ because of its flying-saucer-like design.) It’s located on the former Hewlett Packard campus.
When will Apple Park be finished?
Construction was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2017, and the large-scale building work was mostly done earlier than this. Even now there is still plenty of exterior landscaping to be done, however. Jump down to the section of this article where we
post aerial drone videos to see the latest progress.
Since April 2017, the 175-acre campus has
reportedly been welcoming employees, but it’s set to take more than six months to move all 12,000 employees into the new site, and some construction will continue over the summer even as employees move in.
interview with the Wall Street Journal, Apple design chief Jony Ive revealed that his team would be moving in during the autumn of 2017, and will be among the last teams to move to the new campus.
There will be major product launches at Apple Park before long.
Indeed, one of the most important additions to the Park is the Steve Jobs Theater, which is likely to be the only part of the building we see regularly. It’s a 1,000-seat auditorium located on a hill, one of the highest points within the Apple Park, and will no doubt be the site of the company’s future product launches – something Apple promised at its ‘
‘Let us loop you in’ launch event in March 2016.
How much did Apple Park cost?
It was originally estimated that the campus would cost half a billion dollars; the land alone cost $160 million. But (as is generally the case with large building projects), costs have overrun. The budget for the new spaceship-like headquarters ballooned to a little under $3 billion in 2011 and almost $5 billion by 2013, although at this point it was reported that Apple was looking at ways to trim this by a billion.
Apple is known for its exacting demands when it comes to design, materials and so on, but the spiralling costs of this project have caused some controversy. Back in 2013, it was reported that
angry shareholders were attacking the project and labelling it as wildly extravagant.
Then again, Apple can probably afford it. A final spend of $5bn is a huge outlay but would still represent only about 2.3 percent of Apple’s gargantuan cash reserves: $215bn in January 2016.
Energy efficiency & green credentials
During the March 2016 event, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “Steve’s vision for Apple stretched far beyond his time with us. He intended Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come. The workspaces and parklands are designed to inspire our team as well as benefit the environment. We’ve achieved one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world, and the campus will run entirely on renewable energy.”
Most of the power for the facilities will come from an “on-site low carbon Central Plant”, according to an Apple Insider
report. The structure is outfitted with solar panels around the top of the building, too.
Additionally, 7,000 trees are set to surround the campus. Apple has hired a leading arborist from Stanford University to help landscape the area and restore some of the indigenous plant life, including apricot orchards.
The new campus will reportedly
use recycled water, too, and will use 13,300 feet of pipeline to share the supply between it and Cupertino.
Design, layout and facilities
Foster+Partners is the architects of this colossal building. Previous projects include Wembley Stadium, Canary Wharf Underground Station, Stansted Airport, London’s Millennium Bridge, HSBC HQ at Canary Wharf, the Maclaren Technology Centre and the Hearst Tower in New York.
interview with Architectural Record, Foster+Partners founder and chairman Norman Foster explained that he was inspired by the idea of a London square, where houses surround a park. This eventually evolved into the present design: a circular structure surrounding a large outdoor park.
Foster also explained that, when planning the layout of the building, the architects had to consider the different departments that would need to work together, and considered vertical proximities as well as horizontal ones.
“Of course, you have got an enormous range of skills in this building: from software programmers to designers, marketing, retail,” he said. “But you can move vertically in the building as well as horizontally. The proximity, the adjacencies are very, very carefully considered.”
This open-plan layout used in much of the building – with most employees situated around large tables instead of separated into individual offices – is intended to promote collaboration. But it hasn’t gone down well with everyone.
John Gruber has
reported hearing from numerous staff members who are unhappy with the setup.
“Judging from the private feedback I’ve had from some Apple employees,” he said, “I’m 100 percent certain there’s going to be some degree of attrition based on the open floor plans. Where good employees are going to choose to leave because they don’t want to work there.”
One of Apple’s VPs, indeed, went further.
“When [senior VP of hardware technologies Johny Srouji] was shown the floor plans, he was more or less just ‘F— that, f— you, f— this, this is bulls—.’ And they built his team their own building, off to the side on the campus… My understanding is that that building was built because Srouji was like, ‘F—- this, my team isn’t working like this.”
Apple Park, which is more than a mile around, also includes a visitor centre, with an Apple Store and café open to the public.
That’s in addition to a 100,000-square-foot fitness centre for Apple employees, 300,000 square feet of secure research and development facilities, and two miles of walking and running paths for employees, underground parking plus an orchard, meadow and pond.
1,000 bikes will be kept on the site and available to staff to get around the campus. Jony Ive has revealed that employees can travel on electric golf carts and commuter shuttles if they have a long way to go.
There will reportedly be custom-designed 18-foot tables by a Dutch company called
Arco for Apple employees to take advantage of in open work spaces to discourage an office-like atmosphere. There will be 500 tables, and if put end to end would roughly be the length of the National Mall in Washington, DC.
Despite aiming to be self-sufficient and earth-friendly, the range of materials used in the construction will without a doubt be the top of the line. “As with Apple’s products, Jobs wanted no seam, gap or paintbrush stroke showing; every wall, floor and even ceiling is to be polished to a supernatural smoothness. All of the interior wood was to be harvested from a specific species of maple, and only fine quality ‘heartwood’ at the centre of the trees would be used,”
an insider told Business Week.
Since Jony Ive’s promotion to Chief Design Officer, there has been speculation that he’ll be designing elements of Apple’s new campus, including desks and chairs to be used by employees.
Ive has said that there are four floors at the campus, to minimise the need for elevators. He has revealed that the Apple Watch team will be on the third floor, and his design team will join the executives on the top floor.
Apple Park security
Apple takes security very seriously: it has a lot of ideas and new products it goes to great lengths to protect. Therefore it is not surprising that in planning documents first filed back in 2013 Apple stated that its goal with the new campus was to: “Achieve the security and privacy required for the invention of new products by eliminating any public access through the site, and protecting the perimeters against trespassers.”
In an email exchange with city staff back in October 2013, an Apple executive actually haggled over the location of a single tree. “If we move the tree an additional 5 feet in, the tree becomes a security issue for us,” the exec wrote, according to an LA Times
report. “People will be able to potentially climb the tree and hop the fence.”
With the new campus Apple is attempting to cut off access as much as possible to the public – and it is likely that even members of staff will not have access to all areas of the new building.
Aerial shots and drone videos
We’re fascinated by the progress of the Apple Park construction project. In this section of the article, we gather aerial shots and drone videos showing how things have developed over recent months: we start with our latest drone videos and photos and work back to the start of the work.
February 2018: The drone crash
The air above Apple Park appears to be thick with drones, but as far as we’re aware this is the first drone to actually crash into the building. It was eventually located among the solar panels on the roof. Here’s the footage that was taken before, during and after the crash:
Matthew Roberts took a trip to Apple’s campus at sunset in late September to showcase just how close it is to completion, and it looks stunning.
A week prior to September’s iPhone 8 launch event, Duncan Sinfield posted this drone video showing Apple Park in a state of near completion.
Matthew Roberts’ latest video shows construction wrapping up, as well as some close ups of the Steve Jobs Theatre.
Roberts has been publishing drone footage of the new Apple campus on a monthly basis. If you
visit his YouTube channel you can see the videos that show how the new campus has been coming together.
Here’s the some more drone footage of the construction site, published by
As with most of these videos, we have to point out that this was not shot in June, but near the end of May.
And here’s another video from Roberts for May…
…and one for April 2017.
By the end of February Apple Park was looking great, but construction was clearly still in process. At this point there was only a month to go until the headquarters opened.
Matthew Roberts flew a drone right over the campus to show you what it looked like in January. As you’ll see, the garages have been completed, and are being used by construction workers; and an estimated 70 percent of the solar panels have been installed.
This video has been labelled ‘Feb 2017’ but we received the link on 30 January so we’re calling shenanigans on that.
Late January also saw this video, from Duncan Sinfield:
Matthew Roberts sent us another drone video earlier in January. The campus was certainly looking a lot more finished than it had done in previous months, but the weather meant that much of the landscape had been reduced to slushy, swampy mud.
In December Apple sent photos of the seemingly near-completed Campus 2 headquarters to staff, and these were inevitably leaked. The French-language website MacGeneration got hold of them.
Here are a selection of the ones we liked best; visit
MacGeneration for more.
Picture credit for this and the following three images: Apple/MacGeneration
Garden landscaping has started. Apple says there will be 3,000 trees on site
The site from the air
Late November 2016
Here are the two most recent drone videos of the site, both dated to December 2016 but actually shot right at the end of November 2016. Nearly there!
Here’s the second, shot by Matthew Roberts using a DJI Phantom 3 Professional:
We return to the building site in November 2016.
See the progress over at Apple’s new Campus via this next drone video, shot in September 2016.
August’s drone footage showed great progress, with the building looking much closer to completion.
Below is drone footage of Apple’s new campus from April 2016.
This video, shot in February 2016, showcases real progress on site and gives an idea of how vast Apple’s new HQ will be.
MyithZ recently posted another to showcase just how quickly the campus is being built (in glorious 4K, of course). You really get a sense of the size of the project, and the scale of the task at hand. Select parts of the building are now recognisable, including the hidden car park.
It’s fascinating to see how quickly the building work is coming along, and it seems that
MyithZ seems to agree. Here’s his May 2015 update on Apple’s new campus:
Then, in April 2015, another video of Apple’s Spaceship campus was uploaded to
MyithZ‘s YouTube Channel in 4K:
The drone-touting YouTuber went back with his drone in February 2015, showing us how much difference a month can make at Apple’s new campus.
MyithZ flew a drone over Apple’s ‘spaceship’ campus in January 2015. Watch the video below to see how the new campus was shaping up at the start of 2015.
Apple’s new HQ in London
In September 2016, it was announced that Apple will also be opening a new HQ in London, at Battersea Power Station – an iconic building in London. This building was the cover for Pink Floyd’s 1977 album named ‘Animals’ and led to its stardom. The building is 500,000-square-foot and can be considered one of the biggest office locations in London. Apple plans to move its 1,400 staff in the UK to the new Apple campus, after its £14/$17 billion investment. It’s set to open in 2021.
In October 2016,
Business Insider UK shared a developer video showcasing a sneak preview of what Apple’s new London HQ would look like. The screen grab below shows just how big the development will be and how the iconic London landmark will be revamped. We’re excited to see more developments on the London HQ – we will be sure to update this article with any new additions.
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