Silicon Valley’s New Icon: Apple Park Campus

By Michelle Lee, DeLeon Marketing Dept

Aircraft piloted by Michael Repka | Photo by Anthony Halawa

Driving down from San Francisco to San Jose only takes an hour, but you’ll pass some of the world’s most influential company headquarters along the way. From famous Facebook in Menlo Park and Google in Mountain View, you’ll also find Tesla, Hewlett-Packard, VMWare, and Nest headquartered in Palo Alto. Oracle, Electronic Arts, and Visa rest further north in Foster City and Redwood Shores, while others such as eBay and Adobe are rooted in San Jose, and Netflix rests just slightly south in Los Gatos.

Needless to say, this area is famous for both producing and housing the world’s leading tech giants that are dominating their fields. Their offices, or perhaps more properly called campuses, are phenomenal feats of both architecture and design, and are key attractions for out-of-town and international visitors. With recent expansions and re-designs, it can be easy to argue that some of them are attempting to one-up themselves and their counterparts.

Apple is no exception, with their 11-year-long project for their second campus in Cupertino that finally finished and recently opened. Its ultra-futuristic look has rightfully earned its nickname “the spaceship”, and its immense size has even surpassed the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Resting on a lot of 175 acres, the perfect circle-shaped building of 2,800,000 square feet houses over 12,000 of Apple’s employees across four floors.

British architectural design and engineering firm, Foster & Partners, was responsible for designing most of the campus’ meticulous details, from all of the panels of curved glass needed for the exterior of the building to sourcing specific maple wood for the interior. Its amenities include seven cafés that promote alfresco dining, an auditorium rightfully named after Apple’s late founder with unobstructed 360-degree views of the campus, a 100,000 square foot wellness and fitness center, miles of cycling and jogging trails, a research and development facility, a 14,200-car capacity parking structure, and a visitor center with a roof terrace offering aerial views of the site.

All of these incredible, cutting-edge achievements have made Apple Park a sight to behold, the most expensive building in America, and the fifth most expensive building in the world (after skyscrapers in Saudi Arabia and Singapore, a nuclear power plant in Finland, and the Berlin Brandenburg Airport in Germany), at a total construction cost of five billion U.S. dollars. Because of this, the campus has come under intense scrutiny and criticism for its excessive extravagance and waste of resources, both in terms of time, money, and physical space. Some claim that the campus is in fact not bike- or environmentally-friendly, citing the fact that the campus has more space dedicated to parking garages than to office space itself.

However, Apple has taken remarkable steps to ensure the environmental impact of its new campus is minimal. Across its 175 acres, 80% of it is dedicated to green space, including over 9,000 drought-resistant trees and plants native to the local Cupertino area. The 30-acre interior courtyard is filled with fruit trees, an herb garden near the café, and an artificial pond. Much of the landscape design was directly influenced by the Stanford Dish and Campus, and the seamless glass walls allow for an excellent indoor-outdoor connection throughout. This look has achieved Steve Jobs’ original goal of having the campus resemble more of a nature refuge rather than a traditional office park.

In addition to its great greenery, the building itself is 100% powered by renewable energy. Its rooftop solar panels generate 17 megawatts of power, making it one of the largest solar roofs in the world. The campus is also the world’s largest naturally ventilated building, eliminating the need for HVAC systems nine months out of the year.

Another pressing concern is how the addition of Apple Park affects the local community, both traffic and housing-wise. With the influx of over 12,000 employees and potentially new residents, many worry about how it will cause real estate prices to soar and streets to be constantly congested with vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Despite these valid concerns, the campus will be a great factor for Cupertino’s rising desirability, and will likely boost the local economy. Concerned residents can look to other small cities that are home to tech giant headquarters, such as Mountain View or Menlo Park, and see the positive effect they have had in these areas overall.

In the highly-innovative environment that now dominates Silicon Valley, Apple Park has elevated the standard with its tremendous architectural feats, cutting-edge design, and record-setting corporate environmental sustainability. The campus is also visible from the sky, making it another key icon of the area, just like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and New York skyscrapers.