An In-depth Look At Apple’s Iconic Campus II

Since Office Snapshots began over five years ago, it has been a pleasure to show off offices from around the world. Apple’s offices have been one of the most popular spaces, even without having proper photos. Their Campus II project has had many articles ‘written about it’, but nothing really substantive that covers the entire topic – so I decided to have a go. I hope you enjoy it.

Iconic Design For An Iconic Company

Apple is probably the world’s most iconic brand and their new headquarters campus, dubbed Apple Campus II, seems to be a physical manifestation of that reality. The bold design is the work of world-renowned architecture firm, Foster & Partners, who can claim such projects as the Millau Viaduct, the reconstruction of the Reichstag, the Swiss Re Building, and the Hearst Building as their own.

In his presentation to the Cupertino city council, Steve Jobs noted that, “I think we do have a shot at building the best office building in the world and I really do think architecture students will come here to see this. I think it could be that good.”

The 3-million sqft campus will teardown and replace some 30+ buildings and will be built on a campus that was previously owned by HP.

A Unified Campus To Promote Shared Creativity and Collaboration

Beyond simply making a great building, the company states the goal of the project is to ‘consolidate Apple’s engineers and support personnel into a single distinctive office, research, and development building. The main objective… is to redevelop the project site with a new, unified, secure apple campus.”

The fact that Apple states this means that their current corporate campus is incredibly fragmented. According to the Apple Campus Wikipedia, their current campus has somewhere around 30 buildings. For a company that prides itself on a unified, secure experience throughout their products, it is fairly interesting to see a more unified, secure environment coming to the campus.

The ‘Shared Creativity and Collaboration’ element reminds me of Pixar’s campus – where Steve Jobs lobbied (no pun intended) for a large atrium that employees would spontaneously mingle and collaboration.

But with 14,200 employees scheduled to be on campus (!), it will be interesting to see how creative and collaborative things get.

Thoughts On The Office Layout

Because the campus hasn’t begun being built and no documents have been released as to what the interiors will be like. That  doesn’t mean we can think about what the office styling will be like.

A while back I posted some photos of the Cupertino campus that weren’t that amazing, but more recently I came across some images of a new interior remodel that was very clean, bright, and Apple-like. You can see an example of this on the right.

Without knowing anything, I theorize that this is going to be the office aesthetic Apple chooses. While I can’t guarantee it, I can guarantee they won’t go the Google route aesthetically.

Apple also notes that there will be a lot of meeting room space “Approximately 83,000 sq. ft. of space will be dedicated to meetings and breakout spaces within the communal zones of the building”

An Epic Landscape Plan On An Epic Scale

One of the things learned from the Pixar project is that Steve Jobs – and therefore the companies he was at the helm of – looked to create not only a great set of campus buildings, but also a landscaping plan.  Though Pixar’s campus is large at 20 acres, Apple’s puts it to shame at ~176 acres, of which 114 are slated to be softscape.

According to Apple’s submittal documents that the purpose of its landscape plan, in addition to simply create a beautiful campus, is to:

  • Create a landscape environment that gives Apple’s employees opportunities for recreation and reflection
  • Maximize the provision of green space, and design in  accordance with the climate and history of the area

While presenting the project to Cupertino’s city council, Steve Jobs noted of the campus, “The existing ratio of built-up area to landscaping on the site is 80:20, but the new ratio will be 20:80, that is, 80% of the site area will be greenery.”

In addition to pure greenery will be several groves of apple (naturally), cherry, apricot, plum, persimmon, and olive trees. These of course are in addition to hundreds of trees that will remain or be relocated on the grounds – mostly the large ones – or brought in from other sources. These trees include many varieties of Oak, Pine, Cedar, and Redwood.

Planning documents also note that greenspace is meant to be designed to reflect the local climate and history.

Carrying out their landscaping desires is OLIN Studio, a prolific landscape design company based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – whose work includes updated landscaping at the Washington Monument, garden design at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and Bryant Park in New York City.

Privacy, Privacy, Privacy

Though it is nice to think that Apple’s only goal in creating such a campus plan is aesthetic and driven by a love of nature, the facts support that privacy fits squarely into the equation. With a fence surrounding the entire campus, guardhouses at each entrance, and large swathes of tree coverage to keep out prying eyes – Apple’s Campus II is built for privacy.

One of my favorite quotes from my research of Pixar’s headquarters is by their Director of Facilities who said, ”We are a movie studio, and this is what movie studios do, now that we are a more successful company, people want to get into Pixar. We get fans and tourists; we call them ‘looky-loos. But we also get people who want to steal our intellectual property, our ideas, It’s no laughing matter…”

Apple is obviously not a movie studio, but they have an incredible amount of intellectual property to keep safe and building a campus that protects their valuable assets is of the utmost importance.

All About Amenities

While we know hardly anything about the interior space and the amenities provided within, we can assume that employees will continue to buy their own lunches. But that said, they get to do it in what I am assuming will be a pretty spectacular cafeteria as its atrium spans four stories, commands 1/12 of the building’s circumference, and clocks in at a whopping 58,000 sqft. And of course, with a glass-walled exterior and an incredible landscaping plan, the view will be impressive.

Employees will also have access to a 100,000 sqft fitness center complete with basketball/volleyball gymnasium, group exercise facilities, physical therapy space, and a training staff manning the operation. Another cafe will be present in this building.

The grounds will provide plenty of opportunities for walking, biking, and just plain enjoyment of the beauty – though I had a hard time finding any information beyond two large turf laws of any exterior sports zones.

Environmental Issues

Depending on your definition of what being ‘environmentally friendly’ means, Apple’s Campus II probably fits it. They are planning on the new construction to be energy efficient – though no mention of what exactly that entails has been published. The project will also contain around ~640,000 sqft of solar power generation panels on several of the campus’ rooftops

The on-site power is further explained in the company’s Environmental Leadership Project application which notes that the project will also take advantage of ‘fuel cells with directed biogas’. Commenter Sebastien Arbogast correctly notes that these will most likely be by Bloom Energy – which Apple has used in on datacenter projects.

“These will be supplemented by grid purchased renewable energy if needed during periods of peak demand.”

The project will aim for LEED Silver certification.

Though it would be difficult to capture any meaningful amounts of rainwater (Cupertino averages 23″) – especially not for 14,000 employees – Apple will be installing water catchment devices and recycling water to ease their undoubtedly heavy needs.

Transportation Efforts

The company will also be encouraging employees to use public transit and other active modes of transport using the following methods:

  • Coach shuttle service for Apple employees to and from locations in San Francisco, the East Bay, and the South Bay, including local shuttle service to Los Altos, Los Gatos, and Campbell
  • Coach shuttle service to public transit stations for Caltrain, Altamonte Commuter Express (ACE), and Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)
  • Commute website with transit and shuttle information and carpool matching and bike route matching services
  • $100/month transit subsidy per employee
  • $20/month bike subsidy for bicycle commuters who do not use local transit
  • Bicycle racks, pumps, lockers, and showers available at the campus
  • Bicycle sharing program
  • On-site services that reduce the need for midday errands

Apple is also setting aside parking space and power stations for 300 electric vehicles.

Space For Product Launches

One of the interesting things of note is that the campus will have a underground auditorium. According to the planning documents, a goal of the campus is to “Provide an on-site venue for the introduction of Apple’s new products that will generate surprise and delight, and enable the products to be introduced at Apple’s corporate home.”

What About Parking?

I really hope someone was waiting to hear about the parking situation, because if they were, they are in luck. Parking on the Apple campus will contain a mixture of underground and above ground options.

A majority of the underground parking will be housed beneath the circular headquarters building itself – which is surely meant to hide as much of it away as possible. Other parking will be above ground and be outfitted with solar panels much like the planning rendering below.

Time For The Renderings!