The largest Apple product to ever exist is not its technology but rather an architectural monument: “The Apple Park”, designed by Norman Foster and Partners and completed in 2017. It is the largest office building in the world and is the company’s second campus built in Cupertino, California, constructed on a 175-acre land with a 2.8 million square foot main building with four stories, housing 12,000 employees on a daily basis. 

Apple Park by Norman Foster: All in one space
Site location of Apple park_©

The apple Park places people at its heart, creating an ideal workspace for continued creativity, innovation, and well-being. The campus is built in true Californian spirit, open, and connected to nature. Built with deep care towards the environment as well as the company and its staff, the campus is powered by 100% renewable energy. It is the largest LEED Platinum-certified office building in North America. 

Apple Park by Norman Foster: All in one space
The Apple Park_©

Built on a 175-acre site with an impervious surface, the site now has increased the green spaces from 20 to 80%, with over 6 kilometers of walking and jogging trails. There are now 9,000 trees on-site, including the indigenous oaks and orchards as well as the meadows, sports fields, terraces and a secluded pond.

Structure | Apple Park

The structure of the main building is an infinite loop specially designed keeping in mind Steve Job’s vision for the new Apple Headquarters. It is a massive spaceship Campus called “The Ring “, with a radius of 761 feet and a width of approximately 180 feet across. The structure is surrounded by grass and trees and has an orchard in the centre of the ring, and is the largest pre-cast concrete framed office building with a curved glass facade and glass canopy. The structure innovatively integrates long-span prestressed concrete elements with exposed honed architectural surfaces, liquid radiant cooling systems, forced return air plenums, as well as pre-plumed fire sprinklers.

The glass façadeThe most important architectural feature of the office space is the floor-to-ceiling glass partitions with no visible metal trim from top to bottom, which necessitated the soffits being the same size as the office so the glass could recess above the ceiling line. The continuous slab recessing from the grid to the grid is an unlikely candidate.

Apple Park by Norman Foster: All in one space
The Curved Glass Façade_©
Apple Park by Norman Foster: All in one space
Concrete Detail for Glass Facade_©


The entire campus of Apple Park is a collaboration of the ring building, Steve Jobs theatre, Fitness, and Wellness Centre, Visitors center, and south parking, encompassed by flowing parkland, the structure sits low amid tall trees and is a great place to socialize, exercise and work.

Apple Park by Norman Foster: All in one space
Programatic Division on Site_©

The Simple form of the ring building conceals immense expertise and innovation, comprising of a few core elements present in office space: the communal pod spaces for collaboration, private office spaces for concentrated work, and broad, glazed perimeter walkways featuring the largest sheet of curved glass surface ever constructed building and uninterrupted connection with the landscape surrounding the building. The ring form is grouped in 9 radial wings separated by 7 entrances and the cafeteria/ restaurant wing itself, which occupies the north-east axis: it is a quadruple height dining hall experience with outdoor terraces separated through sliding glass doors with 50 feet height, biggest ever constructed and encourages interaction among the users.

Apple Park by Norman Foster: All in one space
The Ring_©
Apple Park by Norman Foster: All in one space
Partition of the Ring Form_©

The fitness and wellness centre is the pavilion retreat in the apple park landscape approached from the south; it appears as a single-story, lightweight building with expensive glazing that opens light-filled exercise and treatment rooms onto the parkland. Between its two volumes, a juice bar serves healthy drinks and snacks around the courtyards shaded by olive trees. 

The apple park visitor center is an exclusive gateway to apple Park with an extensive roof terrace and stunning views of the main building that offers a unique glimpse of apple park nestles within the carefully planted olive grove, the visitor center is transparent form sitting below a floating carbon-fiber roof which cantilevers over the outdoor seating areas on either side. According to the head of the studio of Foster+Partners: Stefan Behling: “the idea was to create a delicate pavilion where visitors can enjoy the same material palette and meticulous detailing seen in the ring building in a relaxed setting against the backdrop of apple park.”

Special apple merchandise is available at the visitor center as souvenirs with a café at the southern end opening onto the landscape of apple park where the visitors can relax and repose. 

Apple Park by Norman Foster: All in one space
The Apple Park Visitor Center_©
The Apple Park Visitor Center_©
The Apple Park Visitor Center_©

Pre-stressed Concrete

Another key challenge was created by the seismic demands of the project, while the building base is isolated with tiny horizontal accelerations, the vertical accelerations imposed by the performance requirement were significant, hence the building required designing code above the requirements to a performance level of minimum damage in a 2,500 years period, leading to the development of pre-stressed concrete long span unit with a bottom flange.

Sustainability Factor | Apple Park

The Apple campus is built on Apple’s commitment to innovation and environmental sustainability, hence using 100% renewable energy throughout the building, emphasizing the on-site generation of energy from photovoltaic and fuel cells. The building structure is based on providing net-zero energy throughout by a climate responsive design, a comprehensive multi-modal transportation plan, and compact land use that reduces building and parking footprint and the heat island effect with a plan reminiscent of the natural California landscape, including the use of native and drought-tolerant vegetation. The environmental sustainability feature is designed to provide a net zero increase in greenhouse gas emissions, minimize natural resource consumption, and improve the air, water, light, and micro-climate quality of the site.

Energy through Photovoltaic cells_©


  1. Gulezain, Jacob and Parrot, Eve. “Apple Campus 2” Drexel University Department of Architecture and Interiors, 2013.
  15. Underwood, Glen.a and Worley,John. “Apple Park Precast- Integrated Architecture, Structure and Mechanical Services in a long span floor system”, SEAOC Convention Proceddings, 2017.

Areeba Rizwan is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Architecture. She is a travel enthusiast with an interest in learning about architecture through different mediums.An avid reader who likes to scribble her thoughts and ideas on paper and believes that architectural writing is an important part of learning.