Every now and then a breathtaking advancement comes along that makes you wistful you can’t see the world 100 years from now. You’re given a temporary pass, a ticket to ride in the future and to bask in humanity’s ingenuity and ambition.
I wish I could simply marvel at the wonder that is the new Apple headquarters, now nearing full completion with employees starting to flow into its confines.
And yet, as we enter the full unveiling of this architectural wonder, the curtains raise to… criticism (at least in some sizable pockets).
So I set aside my own wish for a world that could just appreciate, and I shift to reporting because no matter what you think of the new Apple HQ (dubbed Apple Park), it’s fascinating.
Here are the facts, and what the lovers and haters are saying. You decide where you fall.
- The HQ is a 2.8 million square foot circle (called “The Ring”) encased in a three-quarter mile perimeter, housing 12,000 employees. It’s sheathed in curved glass with a solar roof, and the main cafe, along with a four-story sliding glass door, is fronted by the single largest piece of curved glass in the world.
- 80 percent of the 200-acre site is devoted to parkland (including 9000 trees) with the intent to blur the lines between architecture and nature. The facility is energy self-sufficient and 95 percent of the concrete from the HP site (on which Apple Park now rests) was recycled and reused.
- The facility comes complete with a 100,000-square-foot fitness and wellness center with a two-story, stone-covered, yoga room (and access to medical and dental services) and a 1,000 seat hilltop theater to showcase new Apple products.
- Inventions were required to realize completion. A new method for baking giant curved glass panels was required. The “baseball cap” canopies that shade the building and keep rain from streaking the glass had to ensure water rolled off it versus collect on it (something not done before). Even the cafe contributed by patenting a new takeaway container that keeps pizza from getting soggy.
- Consistent with Apple design, no detail was left unattended. Door handles, staircase railings and faucets were carefully considered. Desks were made to ergonomically raise or lower at the push of a button. Even the parking garage hides water pipes and electrical conduits so it looks like no parking garage you’ve ever seen.
- The building breathes, inhaling cool air through soffits and exhaling warm air through chimney-like structures.
- Modular “pods” throughout the building enable concentration, collaboration, or socialization. The ability to connect and solve while strolling is world-class.
- The incredible attention to detail and craftsmanship are intended to inspire, and to send a message to employees that details matter. The perfectionist approach is intended to encourage employees to strive for new standards in quality and innovation. Many believe that the value isn’t in the building itself, but what will come out of it as a result.
- As Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Can you imagine doing your work in a national park?”
- A writer for Wired who got an inside look last month described it as “peaceful, even amid the clatter and rumble of construction. It turns out that when you turn a skyscraper on its side, all of its bullying power dissipates into a humble serenity.”
- It’s inspirational in its iconic stature–a cathedral that will stand the test of time.
- Investors question the cost and it comes at a time when Apple hasn’t had a breakthrough hit in years.
- Exacting, over-the-top detail inducing the “gimme a break” factor. A couple examples from that Wired story: “the fitness center stone needing to come from a specific Kansas quarry, and then distressed, to look like the stone in Jobs favorite Yosemite hotel” and “an anal retentive nightmare of indulgence gone wild.”
- As written by my fellow Inc.com columnist Geoffery James last week: “It will be (an) abandoned wasteland in the not-too-distant future.”
- There are an astonishing 9,000 parking spaces. For 12,000 employees. As another Inc.com columnist, Betsy Mikel, writes: “90 percent of them will commute, putting enormous strain on the Cupertino roads and surrounding parking lots.”
Whatever your point of view, I have a different point of view for you.
I have Apple Park beat as a workspace.
As a recent ex-corporate employee and now work-at-home entrepreneur, I work out of the real workplace of the future.
My screened-in porch.
And it’s a seven-second commute.
This article by Scott Mautz also appeared on Inc.com. To read more Inc. articles by Scott Mautz, click here.