On November 20, multinational technology company Apple announced that it had broken ground on its new 133-acre office park in Austin, Texas, that will cost an estimated $1 billion to construct, and released a first look at the project. The campus, which will contain over three million square feet of usable interior space across 10 buildings once complete, will initially house 5,000 employees, with plans to eventually make room for over 15,000. Apple currently employs around 7,000 people throughout Austin, more than twice as many as it had just five years ago, and the company shows little signs of slowing down growth in the area. A production facility near the city has recently taken on the important task of building the latest fleet of Mac Pros and shipping them out to customers in December. “With the construction of our new campus in Austin now underway,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a press release, “Apple is deepening our close bond with the city and the talented and diverse workforce that calls it home. Responsible for 2.4 million American jobs and counting, Apple is eager to write our next chapter here and to keep contributing to America’s innovation story.” The company has partnered with Bartlett Tree Experts, an Austin-based tree and shrub care company, to ensure that the diversity of native trees on the property are responsibly preserved while increasing their numbers to stock the 50-acre nature and wildlife preserve planned for the site. In addition, the new campus will run entirely on renewable energy from locally-sourced solar power. The construction of the new campus reflects the company’s commitment to contributing $350 billion to the US economy between 2018 and 2023, during which time it also plans to create 20,000 jobs. Like other buildings in Apple's portfolio, the new campus will be awash in crisp white surfaces contrasted against floor-to-ceiling glass to reflect the company’s minimalist identity. The new Apple campus is expected to be completed by 2022. While Apple's UFO-like headquarters building in Cupertino, California, was designed by Foster + Partners, the company has not as of yet released information on who designed their Austin offshoot.
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Morpholio, the architect-turned-developer-run company known for its Trace app that blends augmented reality, digital hand drafting, and other architectural tools on portable devices, has brought its interior design program, Board, to desktops for the first time. Coming on the heels of the new Mac Catalina operating system update, the desktop version of Board leverages the new MacCatalyst developer tool which allows for translating iOS apps to desktop more simply. Board, which is intended to apply a mood-board logic to technical interior design problems, has been designed for not only professionals but to make home design easier for average consumers. That said, with Board for Mac, Morpholio hopes to “take advantage of the unique properties of the desktop environment," says Morpholio co-founder Mark Collins in a press release from the company, “which is essential for professional work.” The desktop app will include mood board “super tools,” such as layer control and magic wand selection and deletion, as well as a feature called “Ava,” which creates spec sheets for clients and contractors. Ava gives automatic suggestions to match color and forms, and libraries of products from larger companies like Herman Miller and Knoll and smaller designers like Eskayel. It will also include new export features and provide further compatibility with Adobe and Autodesk products (as well as Pinterest). In addition, while Board for mobile already has AR features that allow for furniture to be placed in space at scale, the desktop version will allow for VR integration. “A typical furniture catalog would rely on still images,” says Morpholio co-founder Anna Kenoff, “but Board allows you experience expertly rendered models, created by the storytellers at Theia Interactive. You can view and spin around your favorite furniture pieces and experience them in every dimension. You can zoom in to stitching and materiality and feel the shade and shadows on their forms.” Additional viewing and presentation features will be built in as well and Board will take full advantage of Catalina’s updated Dark Mode for those who prefer to use it. “When Apple released MacCatalyst, they definitely had creative professionals in mind,” says Kenoff of the recent Apple release. “They wanted to amplify the power of mobile apps by combining them with the precision capable on a Mac. Few architects and designers work exclusively on a laptop, desktop or tablet. We hope to make our apps available wherever designers are working.”
Foster + Partners has broken out of its traditional glass-box bubble and designed a different kind of Apple Store—one that’s arguably distinct because it wasn’t built in a major city center, or within another development (and doesn't resemble a Macbook). Apple Aventura in Aventura, north of Miami is a piece of actual mall architecture that ripples above and beyond its predecessors in terms of design. Located in a new wing of the posh Aventura Mall, the two-story building isn’t a huge departure from the firm’s other work for Apple. It is, in fact, boxy and of course includes trees inside. But the undulating white concrete roof evokes a certain feeling of fluidity in the bayside shopping center that doesn’t exist elsewhere. “We love the honesty and purity of the concrete,” said Stefan Behling, head of studio at Foster + Partners in a press release. Behling and the design team worked closely with Jonathan Ive, the former chief design officer of Apple. They said the building’s exterior design mimics Miami’s white art deco-style architecture, as well as its nautical design scene. “This store is very ‘Miami’ to me,” said Ive. “Its special trees, the light, and the new roof. It is also quintessentially Apple, marrying the outdoor lifestyle with a sense of freedom and creativity that is intrinsic to the way we work.” According to Foster + Partners, the wavy roof design was made from seven precast concrete arches that together form a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The entire structure is held up by steel columns each covered with another thin architectural precast column that's also painted white. Per other Apple stores, this one boasts floor-to-ceiling glass windows, revealing all the activity within the stop. The result is a light-filled Apple store that actually breaks a big design boundary for the tech giant: Of all its retail spaces, the building is the only one to use precast concrete as a predominant structural material. The idea was first introduced within Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, also known as Apple Park, in 2017. Inside Apple Ventura, the ground-floor is decked out with rows of elongated wooden tables that serve as Apple’s signature product displays. A large terraced seating area anchors one end of the store, allowing guests to relax while waiting for their Genius Bar appointments or to secure space for an in-store event. The flight of interior steps is outfitted with leather seating and charging stations. Outside the store, a densely planted garden features teak tables and chairs that seamlessly reference the interior architecture. Customers can also hang out in the shade of the outdoor “Genius Grove” while they wait for assistance. The Apple Aventura store is situated just steps away from the spiraling Aventura Slide Tower by Carsten Höller, a 93-foot-tall piece of public art that's among the most famed parts of the 2.8-million-square-foot shopping campus. The entire site is the second-largest mall in America.
New York's New Museum, which has already launched a fair share of tech-forward initiatives like net-art preservation and theorization platform Rhizome and NEW INC, has teamed up with Apple over the past year-and-a-half to create a new augmented reality (AR) program called [AR]T. New Museum director Lisa Phillips and artistic director Massimiliano Gioni selected artists Nick Cave, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Cao Fei, John Giorno, Carsten Höller, and Pipilotti Rist to create new installations that display the artistic potential of AR and help advance the museum’s own mixed-reality strategy. Each of the artists will create interactive AR artworks that can be viewed via iPhones with the [AR]T app on “choreographed” street tours that will begin in a limited number of Apple stores across six cities. Users will be able to capture the mixed reality installations in photos and video through their phones. Additionally, Nick Cave has created an AR installation titled Amass that can be viewed in any Apple store, and the company has worked with artist and educator Sarah Rothberg to help develop programs to initiate beginners into developing their own AR experiences. This announcement comes on the heels of much industry AR and VR speculation regarding Apple, in part encouraged by recent hires from the gaming industry, like that of Xbox co-creator Nat Brown, previously a VR engineer at Valve. While some artists, institutions, and architects have embraced AR and VR, many remain skeptical of the technology, and not just on artistic grounds. Writing in the Observer, journalist Helen Holmes wonders if “Apple wants the public to engage with their augmented reality lab because they want to learn as much about their consumers as possible, including and especially how we express ourselves creatively when given new tools.” The [AR]T app will drop on August 10th in the following cities: New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo
Apple has restored a cultural, historic, and civic icon in the heart of the nation's capital to serve as its newest retail store. With the recent launch of Apple Carnegie Library, the tech giant has opened its most extensively renovated retail space to date in Washington, D.C. Foster + Partners led the $30 million, two-year renovation of the historic Carnegie Library, a 1903 Beaux-Arts building in D.C.'s Mount Vernon Square. The new store aligns closely with Apple's rebranding of its retail spaces as "town squares" rather than stores, often located in historic and iconic sites and buildings, and intended to be used for more than just selling phones and computers. Apple Carnegie is the 13th such location to try to deliver on that concept. The Carnegie Library was the District's first public library and first desegregated public building and served as D.C.'s central library until 1970. It then sat as a party rental space until the D.C. Historical Society garnered a rent-free 99-year lease with the city in 1999. The society launched a City Museum of Washington, D.C., in the building in 2003, but it closed just one year later. Since then, the library building has been targeted for a range of never-built proposals, including as a music museum and an international spy museum. The new design for the Apple Store introduced a grand staircase that cascades out onto the street, removed later additions to the building, and restored the facade. Foster + Partners worked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other preservation experts to restore the facades and interiors, with an emphasis on reintroducing natural ventilation and bringing more daylight into the building. The retail space can be accessed by entrances on both sides of the building's north-south access, allowing for a route through the building. The central core of the building, which Apple is calling the Forum, is a double-height space topped by a skylight which is dedicated to workshops on Apple's products as well as to host performances and workshops. Apple Carnegie Library also includes new programming for several acres of Mount Vernon Square, an urban park in the heart of downtown D.C. that the library is sited on. The plaza in front of the southern entrance will be dedicated to public concerts and events. Meanwhile, the grand staircase leads visitors to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., which will remain as the building's long-term tenant. In the basement, the Carnegie Gallery is dedicated to educating the public about the history of the building through archival materials and photographs. As Jonathan Ive, Apple's chief design officer, said in a statement, "Apple Carnegie Library will be a way for us to share our ideas and excitement about the products we create, while giving people a sense of community and encouraging and nurturing creativity." However, some in D.C. are questioning how the civic icon could be turned over to a private company like Apple. Other "town square" stores have been rejected, most notably in Stockholm and Melbourne, where Apple had proposed to build new stores in historic public plazas.
It looks like the latest collaboration between Foster + Partners and Apple is dead in the water. The pair’s future flagship Australian store in Melbourne, Victoria, has been blocked by heritage officials, and Apple has decided not to move forward with the project. The pagoda-like Apple store was first revealed to the public in late 2017, and immediately drew criticism for its siting and design. Preservationists were up in arms over the decision to place the shop in the eight-acre Federation Square, Melbourne’s main public plaza. Federation Square emerged from a design competition sponsored by the Victoria government in 1999 to transform a polluted patch of industrial land on the Yarra River into public space. A group including Lab Architecture Studio, led by Donald Bates and Peter Davidson, Karres en Brands Landscape Architects, and the local firm Bates Smart, ultimately won the commission. The square’s eclectic collection of three-story buildings, most of them clad in panelized glass, zinc, and sandstone arranged in dizzying patterns, have become a Melbourne fixture. To the square’s south is the Yarra Building, which currently holds the Koorie Heritage Trust, and would have been demolished to make way for the $35 million Apple store. Other than the auspicious location, the store’s original tiered design drew comparisons to a pizza box, among other things, and Foster + Partners was forced to go back to the drawing board. In July of last year, the design team released a heavier, blockier scheme that oriented viewing angles out towards the river. That effort now appears to have been for naught. On April 5, Heritage Victoria, a state body responsible for protecting Victoria’s cultural and environmental heritage, ruled that the Yarra Building’s demolition would fundamentally alter Federation Square’s fabric. With Heritage Victoria’s refusal, Apple announced that it would be abandoning its plans to build an Apple Global Flagship Store in the square. Federation Square was nominated to the Victorian Heritage Register for historic preservation last August. Undeterred, Federation Square’s management submitted the application to Heritage Victoria for permission to demolish the Yarra Building in December. Now that the Apple store plan is off, Federation Square’s induction into the Victorian Heritage Register will be completed by the end of April.
This past year was a big one for Morpholio, whose app Trace was named an Apple “App of the Day” and a top app in education, design, and drawing. Now, with iOS 12’s updated augmented reality (AR) functionality, the company is pushing the iPad’s architectural sketching abilities further, and closer to (almost) real space. The app was always intended to blend the benefits of sketching and CAD, giving people the option to quickly work things out by hand and blend the benefits of paper and digital tools, but now Trace is hoping to disrupt another common practice: taping and staking off rooms. “People have been pacing out plans as long as they've been drawing them. The palpable sense of scale, dimension, and extent simply can't be communicated with stills or even animation,” said Mark Collins, Morpholio cofounder. However, now, leveraging Apple’s ARKit 2, Morpholio has developed a tool they’re calling ARSketchWalk, which allows Morpholio Trace users to project their drawings at scale onto what’s captured through an iPad’s camera, as well as to extrude walls and other shapes by touch. Collins went on to say: “The AR experience gives you a real sense of how your space will feel and lets you decide if it works for you.” Morpholio cofounder Anna Kenoff said not only has the company been seeing people putting it to the test on clear sites and even on Manhattan office floors, but also using it to design smaller components like mullions or doorknobs to get a sense of and adjust scale right at their desks or on site. “Scale is hard to perceive in drawing if you’re not a pro, or even in a 3D model, which our field has learned over the years, can be deceiving when it comes to real scale,” Kenoff explained, adding that that AR allows an easier way to grasp relationships between spaces with the added ability to see drawings come to life—a quick way to test and iterate ideas that combines the benefits of traditional sketches with the added precision of accurate scale and perspective. The beta release has also been popular with landscape architects, reported Kenoff. The app also takes advantage of another new Apple feature: the ability to experience AR environments simultaneously and from different vantages across multiple devices. “Design is one part idea and two parts convincing others that your idea is the right one,” said Kennoff. The idea, then, is letting other designers, project partners, and clients get the shared experience of moving through the speculative spaces (secondary users can use their phones, with no need for an iPad Pro). Morpholio also expanded the app’s responsiveness to new Apple Pencil gestures and Kenoff said that the new pencil design has been a boon, allowing Morpholio engineers to build software for designers to draw things “only a hand” can. While apps like Morpholio Trace still can’t entirely do away with powerful desktop applications, the increasing computing power of mobile devices paired with the ability to use them on site is offering new avenues for use in the design process and in communicating with clients. “We’re just beginning to harness that technology and see how designers might use it; these are the early phases of that exploration,” said Kenoff. She went on to say, “we see Trace as just one piece of a much larger infrastructure; designers need different tools at different phases of design, but they need different levels of precision at every phase, something Trace can offer.”
Not to be left out of the headquarters expansion game, Apple has announced that it will be opening a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, and satellite offices in San Diego, Seattle, and Culver City, California. The announcement stems directly from the tax reform bill signed in December 2017, as Apple claimed it would be moving a large portion of the $252 billion in cash it was holding overseas back to the U.S. As a result, Apple pledged to repatriate $38 billion and create up to 20,000 American jobs. All told, the tech company plans on investing $350 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, with $30 billion going towards capital projects. Apple already employs 6,200 people in Austin, and the newly-announced campus at the 133-acre Robinson Ranch is expected to break ground a mile away from the extant campus and hold another 5,000 employees, with room for up to 15,000. With 3 million square feet of office space, 50 acres of open area, and a commitment to only using electricity from renewable sources, the future Austin Campus may end up rivaling the spaceship-like Apple Park complex for size. The future offices in San Diego, Seattle, and Culver City will hold approximately 1,000 employees each, and Apple has pledged to beef up their existent offices in Boston, Boulder, Colorado, New York, Pittsburgh, and Portland, Oregon. This year has seen a slew of campus announcements from the world’s largest tech companies. Google is working on their one-million-square-foot Caribbean campus in Sunnyvale, California, as well as their Charleston East project outside of Mountain View, California. Meanwhile, Microsoft broke ground on their 32-acre Silicon Valley campus and announced a sprawling overhaul of their 500-acre Redmond campus just outside of Seattle. The winner of the campus arms race was clearly Amazon, which kept the country enthralled as they narrowed down a home for their $5 billion HQ2, eventually settling on Long Island City in Queens and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. For its part, Apple will be forgoing the billions in subsidies that Amazon accepted, and will only take about $25 million from the state of Texas for its new campus. Construction on the Austin complex is expected to take 30-to-36 months according to Kristina Raps, Apple's vice president of global real estate. If everything goes as planned, the new office is slated to open sometime in 2021.
On October 30, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music to unveil the tech giant’s new and improved iPad Pro tablet. The latest iPad Pro for the first time features the desktop engine of AutoCAD, with pro-users being able to create, edit, and view drawings directly on the mobile device. According to Marcus O'Brien, senior product line manager for AutoCAD, the new application required the team to “rearchitect” the entire core engine. What has this achieved? There is now a single engine powering AutoCAD across desktop, web, and mobile platforms, allowing the highest possible fidelity for members of the AEC industry to move DWG files from one device to the next. This is not the first collaboration with Autodesk for Apple's mobile devices. AutoCAD 360 Mobile was used for the iPad Pro’s initial launch in 2015. While this was a great first step for drawing and other simpler tasks on the go, the AutoCAD team wanted to provide best-in-class data fidelity for their customers on the mobile platform. The new AutoCAD mobile app works seamlessly with the Apple Pencil stylus. Freehand sketches are translated into AutoCAD objects instantly. The Pencil puts CAD tools directly in the user’s hands allowing them to edit, add notes, and dimension drawings freehand. Updates are easily shared with team members using earlier versions of the software such as AutoCAD LT. The app also allows for file management and syncing with Autodesk data management solutions as well as external cloud storage devices. What are the broader implications of AutoCAD’s rollout? O’Brien contends that the portability, ease of use, and the growing strength of pro-grade tablets fill a gap between cell phones and laptop devices. The team still sees drawings originating on the desktop with the tablet serving as a field tool to edit plans while on site; the seamless migration of data across devices is core to this strategy. O’Brien said, “With the new AutoCAD mobile app running on AutoCAD core engine, we’re enabling our customers to access any DWG, from anywhere, on any device with the same trusted AutoCAD technology they’ve always used.” The newly launched tablet is completely redesigned with a Liquid Retina display and face recognition for the first time. It also sports some impressive computing power. Utilizing the powerful new A12X Bionic chip, it is able to run five trillion operations a second and even enables advanced machine learning. In fact, it is faster than most laptops and has twice the graphics speed of earlier versions, making it perfect for augmented reality and immersive gaming. The USB-C connection provides high-performance connections to a variety of accessories including exterior displays and cameras. With that type of computing power and ease of use, the new iPad Pro can handle even the heaviest of rendering files and the most challenging of digital and graphic computing needs. Presales of both the 11- and 12.9-inch display version start today and they will be available November 7 with prices starting at $799 and $999 respectively.
Apple's product design may win the company accolades, but the same cannot be said of its recent forays into architecture. Stockholm is the latest city after Melbourne to push back on the tech behemoth's plans for a new store. What Apple is calling its "town square" concept, designed by Foster + Partners, is being decried as an attempt to privatize the city's oldest and arguably most important public space, Kungsträdgården, or the King's Garden. Stockholm's new city government, elected into office this month, has announced that the Apple store project is welcome elsewhere, but that it would block the company's attempt to set up shop in the park. Currently, Kungsträdgården establishes a direct visual link to the Royal Palace and serves as the site of the city's major celebrations, protests, and public debates. “It is the thread that pulls together the historical power of the monarchy with the commercial blocks of Hamngatan and the working-class districts of Södermalm. This is very important for democracy because it has to do with power, symbolically and spatially,” Johanna Jarméus of Nyréns Arkitektkontor, a Swedish architecture firm, told The Guardian. The design by Foster + Partners dominates the public square, making it appear to be the main structure defining the space, with the garden serving the building. Or, as the editor of Arkitektur, a major Swedish architecture magazine, put it more bluntly, “It’s like a parasite.” The Apple store design requires the company to annex about 4,000 square feet of public park space in addition to the plot it has already purchased. The company has made a similar proposal to use public land for its Federation Square store in Melbourne. The King's Garden plot is offered to developers on the condition that they offer restaurants and cafes for the park, and is currently home to a TGI Fridays. The Apple design would also require rezoning the site for retail. For Apple, the dominance of public space is itself the point. "We call them town squares because they’re gathering places where everyone is welcome,” as Apple's vice president of retail said last year at one of the company's staged launches. It appears that the residents of Stockholm and the 1,800 public comments, most negative, against the plan, disagree. Stockholm's city government may have declared its opposition to the Apple "town square" store, but there's a hitch—the company still owns the plot of land. Still, some are envisioning a public park where there is no building at all, requiring a much bigger, longer battle to define what the park's future will be.
Frequent Apple collaborator Foster + Partners has gone back to the drawing board for their plans to build a flagship Apple store in Melbourne, Australia’s Federation Square. The original scheme was unveiled back in December of last year, and the public pushed back over the location, the “Pizza Hut pagoda” design, and the potential demolition of the Yarra Building. Federation Square spans nearly eight acres and serves as Melbourne’s main public square, the result of a government-mandated reclamation of the industrial land on the banks of the Yarra River in 1999. The architectural design competition for the square was won by a coalition of teams including Lab Architecture Studio, led by Donald Bates, Karres en Brands Landscape Architects, and the local firm Bates Smart. Donald Bates is acting in an advisory role for the proposed Apple store project. The original Federation Square design includes an eclectic collection of three-story buildings organized around a central plaza. Each building is clad in zinc, glass, and sandstone, often in a seemingly-random, fractalized pattern. The square contains a number of cultural resources, including the Ian Potter Centre for Australian art, and the Koorie Heritage Trust in the Yarra Building. The group responsible for maintaining the square, Fed Square Pty Ltd, has been quick to point out that the area has always had private retailers, and that the square operates on a commercial model. Foster + Partners’ original plan for Apple Federation Square would have replaced the three-story Yarra Building with a two-story glass “pagoda” meant to open up views of the river. The glass cube would have been enlivened by two bronze skirts, resembling a double-height version of Foster’s flagship store in Chicago. After Melbourne residents took to the internet, local council meetings, and workshops to protest, a steering committee was set up to gather input on what the public would like to see included. The revised building takes the aforementioned concerns into account and attempts to better engage the existing buildings in the square and the landscaped river to the south. The new building is much blockier and top-heavy than its previous iteration. The large rectangular top half seems to levitate when viewed from above as it cantilevers off of a smaller base and creates space for an array of rooftop solar panels. The change includes a public balcony overlooking the river and over 5,300 square feet of public space. Still, these changes aren’t enough for those who feel an Apple store is the wrong choice for Federation Square, full stop. The group Citizens for Melbourne is vowing to fight the addition, arguing that Foster + Partners have simply swapped a “Pizza Hut pagoda” for an “iPad”. If construction continues as planned, Apple Federation Square will open in 2020. Demolition on the Yarra Building is slated for 2019.
Apple has wrapped up its keynote at the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and announced several big changes coming with IOS 12 that should shake things up for architects and designers. The biggest announcements focused on VR and augmented reality (AR), as Apple unveiled ARKit 2.0. With a presentation backed by a constellation of big names such Lego, Adobe, Autodesk and more, the sequel to Apple’s original AR infrastructure promised to bring a much more cohesive AR ecosystem to consumers. For architects and interior designers, Apple’s promise of easily digitizing and later placing real-world objects in an AR environment could have a huge impact on envisioning what a space will look like. If ARKit 2.0 succeeds, it could be used to decorate a room or to put different architectural options (literally) on the table without having to build physical iterative models. A collaborative, locally-hosted AR experience was also shown off at the keynote, with two players using their iPads to knock down wooden towers Angry Birds-style. One complaint about the original ARKit was the fragmented ecosystem and inability to interact with AR objects across apps. For IOS 12, Apple has partnered with Pixar to develop a new proprietary file format for 3D models, USDZ (Universal Scene Description Zip). USDZ files should be openable across all IOS devices, including Macs, and Adobe is promising native Creative Cloud support. The introduction of a streamlined system for sharing and examining 3D objects in the real world, and to create persistent AR experiences in specific locations, likely means enhanced functionality for apps like Morpholio once the new IOS rolls out. For those looking for more practical applications of the technology, Apple is also expanding its list of native AR apps. Coders who have measuring tools on the App Store likely won’t be happy with Measure, Apple’s in-house AR solution that allows users to snap a picture of reference objects and then tap to measure anything else. Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi took to the stage and used Measure to seamlessly calculate the length of a trunk, then his own baby photo. IOS 12 will get a public release when the latest iPhone model rolls out in September of this year.