Apple Inc., the high-profile purveyor of design-driven electronics, has refocused its eye for high-style design onto architecture with plans for a new 2.8 million-square-foot headquarters slotted to be built in Cupertino, Calif.
Given the company’s reputation to staying on the cutting-edge of futuristic design, it’s not surprising that the new compound is being built and designed with the laser-like focus on detail and aesthetic perfection for which the late Steve Jobs was known. But even for Apple, the project—christened Campus 2—pushes limits, though this time for construction rather than electronics, according to Bloomberg News, which interviewed several Apple insiders who spoke off the record.
According to Bloomberg’s report, the design incorporates 40-foot panes of concave glass—curved with a cold-press process that eliminates the clouding and distorted views that result from standard glass curving methods—to create walls of glass that encircle the spaceship-esque structure. “There isn’t a straight piece of glass on the whole building,” Jobs told the Cupertino city council in June 2011. “And as you know, if you build things, this isn’t the cheapest way to build them.”
In fact, nothing about the project seems to have been planned the cheapest way. Inside, all wood finishes will be made of one specific species of maple, and only the higher-quality heartwood found at the center of a tree will be permitted. Windows will be automated to admit what is calculated to be the perfect amount of air, light, and wind to ensure an always-perfect indoor climate. Jobs wanted flooring to be composed of highly polished terrazzo, while ceilings will be made up of polished concrete, which will be cast in molds on the floor then lifted into place to avoid the marks left by the more common—and significantly less expensive—method that employs scaffolding. Jobs also insisted that the gaps left where walls and surfaces are joined be no more than 1/32 of an inch across—compared with 1/8-inch, which is standard in most construction in the U.S., Bloomberg reports.
Jobs anticipated the space would be “the best office building in the world,” and in true visionary style saw it as not only a place of business but also as a future mecca for architecture students. However, the future doesn’t come without a fitting price tag, and even at Apple, construction budgets can rein in big dreams. Cost estimates currently stand at $5 billion, though company executives are trying to shave $1 billion off that price, which could mean that wall joints might end up with 1/8-inch gaps after all.
Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.
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