Apple is building an amazing new campus with Norman Foster that is estimated to cost $5 billion—a billion dollars more than the new World Trade Center complex. That is due to an Apple-like attention to detail: 3.7 miles of curved glass will wrap around the building, concrete ceilings will be carefully cast then lifted into place, museum-grade stone-infused flooring will replace standard concrete, and most infamously, gaps between surfaces promise not to exceed 1/32 of an inch (vs. the U.S. build standard of 1/8 of an inch).
It's an absurd minimalist spectacle—if such a concept can exist— detailed in new light by this promotional video, with commentary by Norman Foster, along with several project leads. Whereas blacktop-laden industrial parks dominated the last 50 years of corporate architecture, Apple’s campus is an airy ring in the middle of a nature refuge. Foster points to Jobs’s inspiration—the Stanford campus, and the "fruit bowl" of America, California itself. Apple’s senior chief arborist, David Muffly, puts it more simply: "The idea was to bring California back to Cupertino." In response, he’s transplanting the healthiest old trees onsite to be part of the new campus, but reinforcing the space with more indigenous species. (In all, there will be more than 6,000 trees across 300 species, plus 15 acres of natural grasslands.)
Which all sounds nice and lovely. But Apple’s new campus isn’t beyond criticism. It’s still a fortress of solitude. That gorgeous green space is for employees only (whereas, for instance, California's natural coastline is protected public space), and the city of Cupertino will face all sorts of unpleasantries as a result, like traffic congestion. It also does nothing to solve the Bay Area’s housing crisis, which is itself inflated by companies like Apple.
Indeed, Apple is building what could be one of the most beautiful corporate spaces ever conceived, but unlike the company's computers and phones, which democratized good technology design for us all, the Apple mothership is just for Apple.
[Hat tip: designboom]