Controversial issues in the architectural field
News: architect Norman Foster has revealed how late Apple CEO Steve Jobs called him “out of the blue” in 2009 to invite him to design the Apple Campus 2 with the words “Hi Norman, I need some help.”
Ask Norman Foster what he’d like to change about Apple’s recently constructed headquarters in Cupertino, California, and he’ll need a moment to think.
The famed architect, whose firm spent the last eight years perfecting plans for Apple’s glassy Campus 2, is most pleased with the results. But there is one thing: “The only hesitation I have is regarding the changing transportation patterns,” Foster said today at the WIRED Business Conference.
Apple‘s headquarters has a huge underground parking lot accommodating 11,000 vehicles. Convenient today. But cars (and garages) may become less important in the future. “Perhaps the traditional garage needs a rethink right now,” continues Foster. “Perhaps the second time around, you’ll use a lot of persuasions: ‘Give the parking persuasions her floor so we can retrofit it more easily without having to fill it up with cars in the future.’ Towards a more livable space.” For Foster, the future of workplace design rests on this flexibility. Given Steve Jobs’ constant attention to detail, that may sound counterintuitive.
Foster remembers when Jobs first discussed building a new campus with him in 2009. “He had a very clear vision of the project,” Foster said on stage. Jobs wanted the building to be flat against the ground to blend in with the surrounding landscape. I was hoping His late CEO of Apple dictated everything from door handles to materials to the ultra-tight tolerances required for entire buildings. Obsessed with glass and wanting to foster a connection between indoors and outdoors, Jobs created a door to an on-campus restaurant that fully opens in 12 seconds, removing the barrier to the outside world. Following your vision strictly means you lose flexibility. “It’s the other way around,” said Foster. The best buildings, he argues, need strong vantage points. It is necessary to carefully design so that it can respond to changes in people and society, and it is not enough to simply construct an open-plan layout. Ultimately, the most enduring workplaces honour the deep-seated desires of those who spend time there. They prioritise smart transportation routes to help people connect. Encourage employees to connect with nature instead of locking them in a glass box. To be truly competitive, architects and companies must think beyond productivity. “From the beginning, I’ve been against the idea that Office HQ is all about work, whether a mega office or a micro-office. “It’s about lifestyle.”
The circle is complete, continuous, unbroken, and closed. Its shape signifies perfection, a kind of unified perfection. Apple Park, Apple’s ring-shaped new headquarters designed by Foster + Partners, invites interpretation. A building and a symbol. Apple Park in Cupertino, California, is the 21st-century update of his mid-20th-century corporate office campus, enhanced with an emphasis on environmental awareness and employee well-being. In most parts of the United States, the suburban corporate campus has become obsolete as a business ideal. Many companies have relocated at least some of their operations to central cities, a location that young, educated workers may favour. However, Silicon Valley technology companies have largely bucked this trend by continuing to increase their footprints, all with an environmental and social burden. Apple’s major investment in Cupertino cements its suburban identity and the suburban Bay Area as a major tech landscape in the United States.
A mid-20th-century corporate campus was built on the Greenfield site. The best, like Eero Saarinen’s General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, and John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois, exude the optimism of postwar America and its booming economy. I was allowed to. These campuses offered a positive (albeit somewhat barren) perspective on work life and corporate innovation. New products and ideas emerged from isolated corporate cultures and were transported worldwide by trucks, planes, radio, and print media. These campuses also demonstrated white flight, the accelerating decentralisation of the American cityscape, and the automobile’s dominance. Apple Park does not criticize these precedents. It embraces decentralisation and suburban states but evolves the model. Of course, Silicon Valley is not your typical suburban area. Norman Foster points to the “homemade affinity” that makes the region a fertile ground for technological innovation. Stanford University, many nearby hardware, software, and Internet companies, a highly educated and skilled workforce, a vibrant startup culture, and capital. “There is a wonderful California spirit to this landscape,” recalls Foster. “I feel like anything can happen there.”
Built on the site of the former Hewlett Packard headquarters, Apple Park brings a natural element to a once-paved corner of Silicon Valley. Foster + Partners worked with his OLIN, a Philadelphia-based landscape architect, to transform the 175-acre site, previously covered by a parking lot, into a winding pathway and two-mile runway for employees. It transformed into a tree-lined campus with trails and hiking trails. Before his untimely death, Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs personally selected many of his 9,000 drought-tolerant trees. Some are orchards that recall the landscape of California’s youth. Indeed, the rigour and grace of Foster + Partners’ work fit nicely into Apple’s corporate culture, as does the company’s interest in advancing research and materials development. (This relationship has proven to be long-lasting. Foster + Partners design many of the company’s flagship stores worldwide.) Desire Information Objects. They didn’t invent the smartphone; they just made it the best. The most powerful Apple products (iPhone and MacOS) are intuitive to use and feel like an extension of your body.
The building is similarly designed, with a floor plan that meets the physical and mental needs of the 12,000 workers, giving them access to natural light and air and expansive countryside views. Staff is divided into different office types by department, emphasising a democratic, non-hierarchical culture where information can be easily shared. Collaboration is encouraged (However, Wired magazine, one of the few publications allowed in the building, reports that there are closed offices outside the top-secret research and product development areas, showing that even the most democratic design intentions often clash with programmatic reality).
The circulation is driven into a fluid and endless cycle, bringing to light the restless oddities of this artificial Arcadia. Just as Apple worked with glass manufacturer Corning to develop ultra-thin displays for the iPhone, Foster + Partners developed the world’s largest curved glass panels, giving the building a taut, unified envelope – the kind of research and innovation the company is known for. The glass screens protrude from the building, reducing solar heat and glare. During long periods of mild weather in the region, the building will rely on natural ventilation for cooling, switching to air conditioning only on the hottest days. Building-integrated PV combined with an on-site PV park enables the entire complex to generate more electricity than it consumes – a commendable achievement for a consumer goods company in rapid change.