On September 12, 2017, the general public got its first real look inside Apple Park, Apple’s new, massive, multi-billion dollar ring-shaped headquarters in Cupertino, California. Specifically, they announced their new iphone lineup in the appropriately named Steve Jobs Theater, a 1,000-seat venue inside the giant ring itself. Ever since it was announced, people have been curious about this amazing new structure, and as Apple’s last few employees move in, we will finally get a good look at it.
Apple Park is impressive, and that’s almost certainly the point.
As a fan of Apple’s products, I’ve been watching the construction of Apple Park curiously over the years. Steve Jobs himself was the driving force behind it (no surprise there), and the project’s planning stages began nearly a decade ago. In fact, Jobs did much of the initial groundwork (literally and metaphorically) before his death in 2011. Here are some of the vitals on this architectural wonder:
- It cost $5 billion – For reference, that figure is higher than the gross domestic product of about 35 countries in the world. It’s a lot of money, but maybe not for a company that has north of $200 billion in the bank.
- It’s shaped like a flying saucer – Its roughly 2.8-million-square-feet of space was constructed as a gigantic, four-story silver and glass ring. It will hold about 12,000 Apple employees.
- It’s super green – It’s one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world, running almost entirely on renewable energy. Much of that power will come from solar panels on the top of the structure.
- There’s a huge park inside the ring – Apple made a point of working trees – about 7,000 of them – into the property’s design, including an apricot orchard (I know, I know, but that would be too predictable wouldn’t it?).
Now, one last important fact:
Even accounting for its massive scale, Apple Park would have been a tiny bit too small for Steve Jobs’ ego.
Kings build castles. It’s a fact of human history. Even though he was brilliant and a visionary and pro-earth, Jobs was a human first. And for whatever reason, we all feel compelled to leave as big of a mark on this world as we can.
Jobs’ disciples will tell you that the facility is a showpiece for new technology, that it is a savvy business investment meant to inspire Apple users around the world. They will tell you that it is about innovation, not self-promotion.
Here’s what I think: If you’re important enough, the world builds a monument to you. If you’re impatient enough, you build one to yourself.
How do you think the all-powerful pharaoh introduced the designs for the first pyramid to his board of directors? “This isn’t for me,” he probably said. “It’s for all of you. It will be a symbol of our greatness! Now get to work.”
In the inevitable post-apocalyptic future, Apple Park is going to make a great set for some kind of laser gun battle between mutants (who will surely dress like the band Twisted Sister) and super intelligent apes. Pew pew pew! “What is this place?” Pew pew pew! “Not sure, but whoever built this place must have been a big deal!” Kablaam! “Hit the deck – that espresso machine is going to blow!
Jobs didn’t just order a new headquarters, he committed his entire company to constructing a physical representation of his legacy. Take heart – no matter how brilliant and driven and successful any person is, he or she is just as insecure as the rest of us.
Ask Apple’s shareholders if they think the building is necessary, and you will get a lot of mixed feelings. However, there’s absolutely no argument that Apple Park makes a statement. What that statement is? We’ll find out in the next few years.