Co.Design

The Apple Aliens Have Landed! Jobs Unveils Pics Of UFO-Like Campus

In glowing new renderings, the new Apple campus looks like the compound of a cult leader. (Which is really what it is, come to think of it!)

The office of British starchitect Norman Foster has released fresh images of its otherworldly design for Apple’s forthcoming campus in Cupertino.

Grainy renderings, unveiled at a city council meeting and beamed around the Interwebs in June, revealed a flying saucer of a building (which folks have taken to calling AppleSaucer) and, well, that’s still spot on. In glittering new renderings, the proposed 2.8 million-square-foot, four-story, glass-enclosed office rings a verdant central park, like a crop circle cut into the lush little heart of prelapsarian Silicon Valley. Apple has christened it Apple Campus 2. It’ll be “a serene and secure environment reflecting Apple’s values of innovation” for up to 13,000 employees, the press release says. It’ll also include a raft of ecotastic features designed to pare down the building’s carbon footprint. Sounds splendid. So why does the place feel so damn creepy (and not just because it could lodge an army of E.T.s)?

We’ll get to that. First, the minutiae. According to Cupertino’s website, the 175-acre campus will include:

* An Office, Research and Development Building comprising approximately 2.8 million square feet;
* A 1,000 seat Corporate Auditorium;
* A Corporate Fitness Center;
* Research Facilities comprising approximately 300,000 square feet;
* A Central Plant; and
* Associated Parking.

The green features: The place is expected to include an on-site, low-carbon central plant that will supply the majority of the campus’s power. It’ll make use of reclaimed water. And it’ll reduce car travel, though it’s not clear, exactly, how.

It’s the shape of the building that has us spooked. Circles and circle-like structures have a long tradition in architecture. You see them everywhere, whether in Roman amphitheaters or Mongolian yurts. But you also see them in prisons (as Panopticon towers) and in high-security architecture, like the Pentagon. The form suggests surveillance and paranoia — Apple’s building especially so, because, like Apple stores, it’s completely covered in glass. We worry employees will feel like they’re both trapped and being spied on. Maybe all that foliage in the courtyard will provide a welcome buffer? Guess we’ll just have to wait till the spaceship has landed to find out.

For our earlier coverage of Foster's Apple campus, go here and here.

Add New Comment

6 Comments

  • Patrick Doyle

    Beautiful! I wonder if it will have the ability to launch into space, and become the first Halo :P

  • Mogwai

    Circles are also reminiscent of less hysterical subject matter; theatre and performance for instance. The Roundhouse, The Globe, performing in the round, etc.

    Really interested to see how you'd travel up to 180º around the building. Travelators? Monorail? Canal? Get in your car and drive? Walking's great and all, but that thing looks largish.

  • Jonathan Lavoie

    I would have loved to see guys such as BIG, UN Studio or MVRDV work on this project. Looks Fostery, plus these renderings show nothing at all....

  • Oliver Bothwell

    Well Renzo Piano would have been my choice, Zaha Hadid is more theatrical than practical. However, I think Foster was a good choice for Apple. Apple design beautiful products but they are never that ground breaking as objects. It's the software/hardware combo that makes them come alive. Foster seems like a great match.
    Not sure I agree about this building looking oppressive, looks pretty open to me.

  • Julie

    Why Norman Foster? He is pretty old school.. surprised they went with such a standard architect (very big, corporate office too, not sure he even does any of the designing anymore, mostly retired). You would think Apple would go with a much hipper architect that better represented their image - maybe UN Studio, Zaha Hadid or at least Herzog and deMeuron, etc. These architects are extremely established in the field...but much cooler than Foster. In computer terms - Foster is like Office 97 (cool back then - maybe. but no one cares now - we all moved on).

  • jonathan

    Is their image "hip"? It seems like they try to present themselves as classic and timeless, albiet trendy. Apple always makes products with a broad generational attraction. I think Foster is a good match.