[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Perhaps the most hyped corporate campus in history, Apple's Norman Foster–designed campus in Cupertino, is starting to come out of the ground. YouTube user jmcminn recently uploaded a video of a (loud) drone flying over the top secret construction site, where work began a few months ago and should continue through 2016. The circular foundations appear to be over a quarter complete. The 2.8 million square foot, 12,000-employee campus was first revealed in 2011 and joins ambitious new Silicon Valley campuses by Samsung, Google, Facebook, Nvidia and more in a remarkable architectural run in the area. Wondering if people are interested? The Apple construction page has almost 3 million views. For more construction news visit the city of Cupertino's update page. Other partners on the project are engineers Arup and landscape architects Olin (managing over 10,000 square feet of landscaped space).
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Goettsch Partners landed its largest project in China, a cluster of five towers on 15 acres in Shenzhen’s Qianhai district. China Resources Land Limited (CR Land) hired the Chicago-based Goettsch to design 5.4 million square feet of space for offices, apartments, a five-star hotel, and retail. U.K.–based Benoy is the masterplanner, and is designing a shopping mall and retail areas at the towers’ base. CR Land and Goettsch have worked together before, including on two hotel towers at Shenzhen Bay. Shenzhen’s Qianhai district is in a “special economic zone” targeted for development by the Chinese government, which envisions the 5.8-square-mile area as the “Manhattan of the Pearl River Delta.” Goettsch’s towers will rise in “Neighborhood 2,” the most recent Qianhai parcel to host development that Chinese authorities say will total $45 billion by the conclusion of the area’s overhaul. Their announcement has spurred a small frenzy of building and land speculation, attracting billions of dollars of investment from real estate developers in this boom town about an hour from Hong Kong. Goettsch’s design plays off the blue glass of nearby buildings with a metallic-painted aluminum frame, using horizontal fins on the hotel and apartment towers to differentiate them subtly. As with many such megablock developments in China, ground-level shopping and pedestrian paths will link the five towers. Since it was designated a special economic zone in the late 1970s, Shenzhen has seen its population balloon from 30,000 to more than 8 million. Its reputation as China’s “instant city” has brought an influx of foreign investment, but it also speaks of the city’s struggles with pollution and dangerous working conditions. Perhaps best known in the West for making Apple products, Shenzhen is a manufacturing hub that has been called "China's Silicon Valley." In the wake of a “suicide crisis” at Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer in charge of Shenzhen’s most notorious Apple factories, the company moved most of their jobs north to Zhengzhou.
Like many major tech companies in Silicon Valley, Apple provides free transportation for its employees living in the Bay Area. About 28 percent of Apple employees do not drive to work, instead taking employer-owned biodiesel shuttles, biking, or walking. In an effort to bring that percentage up to 34 percent (a figure that will help get their new Norman Foster–designed campus in Cupertino approved), the company is expanding its fleet of buses and building a dedicated transportation center. With an annual budget of $35 million—that's approximately $21,000 per employee—the Transportation Demand Management program, as it is formally called, provides an average of 1,600 employees a free ride to work each day. Shuttles owned and operated by companies such as Google and Apple have sparked recent protests, prompting the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to approve a new plan: company shuttle buses will have to pay $1 for every stop made, every day. The proposal is set to go into effect this July and raise $1.5 million over the first year and a half. More info at the Los Angeles Times.
Apple's spaceship-like campus plans, designed by Foster and Partners, have been criticized for—among other other things— a lack of pedestrian friendly design. It appears the company has listened. New documents presented to the city of Cupertino show extended bike paths, winding walkways and private roads both circling the grounds and running through the center of the campus. The bike lanes would have buffer lanes to protect them from cars, pedestrian walkways would have increased lighting, a transit center would be the focal point for buses, and the plans also make room for public art projects. Not all the changes are eco/pedestrian friendly. The new design calls for an increase in parking spaces from 10,500 to 10,980. Slated for completion in 2016, the campus has also been in the news for budget overruns and delays, with Bloomberg Businessweek reporting its cost ballooning from $3 billion to $5 billion. The first phase of the campus is scheduled to be complete by 2016.The original date was 2015.
Much has been made of the decline of American industry and, more recently, the rise of small-scale urban industry, but one of the largest international manufacturers, Taiwan-based Foxconn, could change the industrial scene completely if it decides to build factories in the United States. The Guardian reports that Foxconn is considering Detroit and Los Angeles for potential outposts thanks to rising costs overseas, but the company infamous for manufacturing Apple products among others at its 800,000-worker-strong Chinese facilities would have to adapt to radically different American ways of working. It was early last year—after a string of workers committed suicide and a lethal explosion tore through a plant—when Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook asked the Fair Labor Association to assess Foxconn’s working conditions. Reforms where set in place that doubled Foxconn’s worker salary levels in China and cut overtime hours. The increase in costs in places like China has prompted the company to consider locations overseas. In September, plans were announced for a nearly $500 million factory to be built in São Paulo, Brazil where Foxconn will hire up to 10,000 people to make computer and some Apple products. The company also plans to open a new phone factory in Indonesia by the end of 2012. If built, Foxconn's new U.S. factories and work standards would be altered for the American workforces, who won’t likely work for China’s low wages or live in work dormitories. Instead of manufacturing products that rely heavily on hand labor, the American factories would primarily build flat screen televisions, which use a primarily automated process. Company officials would not comment on the possible expansion into the U.S., but did say American engineers will be invited to its Chinese facilities to learn about its manufacturing process.
Apple’s new campus in Cupertino has left the design community a bit perplexed. Back in September most of the architectural critics who weighed in on the issue expressed a one-two combination of shock and disappointment. Precisely because of Apple’s design bona fides and Sir Norman Foster’s involvement as the lead architect, they were expecting better. Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times called it a “retrograde cocoon,” marking it down as a car-centric, “doggedly old-fashioned proposal.” Paul Goldberger of The New Yorker didn’t pull his punches either. He mocked the building as a “gigantic donut” that was “scary” in its lack of functionality and human scale. Though he typically will not judge an unbuilt design based on renderings, in this case Goldberger felt he must:
It’s said that Steve Jobs considers this building to be a key part of his legacy, which would be unfortunate, because it would mean that his last contribution to his company might well be his least meaningful.Despite these cries from the box seats, a revised design that was released in early December didn’t change much from the original. Like the drawings first publicized this summer, the latest renderings depict a vast ring building set within a dense grove of trees. The new design has a darker roof and a more articulated elevation, clad with larger panels of gently curved glass. But the general form and program remain the same. Comprising a total area of 2.8 million square feet, its circular structure will house 13, 000 employees and include a thousand-person auditorium for corporate events. The utter naïveté of the form from an architectural standpoint may explain why the critics are so disturbed. How could such a big-name architect like Norman Foster, known for his pitch-perfect modernism and finesse, have generated such an inefficient plan? Could Jobs possibly be behind it? Jobs, for his part, only went so far as to call his campus a “space ship” at the local town hall meeting in June. With little explanation to go on, neither Hawthorne nor Goldberger connected the design to its most obvious reference: Zen Buddhism, one of Steve Jobs' life-long pursuits since his early days at Reed College. It’s conceivable that the campus plan was handed to Foster by the Apple CEO himself in the form of a simple circle of ink on rice paper. The ensō, or “circle,” is perhaps the most enduring motif in the Zen tradition, one that first appears in Japanese monasteries in the mid-1600s. The Zen circle is not a linguistic character, but rather a symbol that conveys a host of things—the universe, the cyclical nature of existence, enlightenment, strength, and poised contemplation. It suggests the Heart Sutra, which explains that “form is void and void is form,” as well as the path to Bodhisattva-hood. More importantly, the very making of the circle acts like a Rorschach test. As an expression of a moment then the body and spirit most freely create, and in the full sweep of a single brush stroke, the character of the devotee is fully exposed. In each ensō is the trace of spiritual realization. For those who know the life of Steve Jobs, this has special meaning. While still in college, he devoured books on Zen and was transfixed by one class in particular: calligraphy. As he discussed years later, “It was beautiful, historical, and artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.” And it was in 1975, after a less successful stint in India, that Steve Jobs –always torn between tech and the spiritual path--deliberated moving to Japan to enter a monastery. But the Zen master Kobin Chino Otogawa (who would later preside at Jobs 1991 wedding) persuaded him not to don the monk’s habit and instead make technology his vocation. Jobs started Apple in April 1, 1976. This personal history and the particular dimensions of the campus circle leave little doubt as to the connection. For a man dying of pancreatic cancer, Jobs was greatly involved in the campus design. He personally presented the project to the Cupertino town council, his last major endeavor as CEO. It is in their painted ensō and attendant poetry that monks over the centuries have each conveyed their own final testimony on enlightenment. This campus is Jobs’, and there are many personal touches. It is graced with thousands of fruit trees –cherry, apple, apricot, and plum trees that have been placed to offer a sense of perpetual bloom through the seasons. As Forbes magazine breathlessly described it:
In late February, around the time of Jobs’ birthday, the show will begin. Pink and white plum blossoms will appear on stands of trees at the center of Apple’s new campus, hinting at more to come. A few weeks later cherry trees scattered strategically along walkways and at the edges of open glades will start to blossom.Fruit trees held a great deal of meaning for Steve Jobs, tying back both to his formative teenage job as an arborist on the Friedland farm and his early diet as an Ehret fruitarian at Reed College. The renderings don’t do justice to this aspect of the landscape design, nor do they offer any glimpse of the interior courtyard. Inside the vast courtyard, employees will experience not just gardens, but also a fountain, an open-air amphitheater, and a dining terrace set beside among apple orchards, a grove of apricot trees, stands of plum and cherry. Void or no void, it’s pretty glorious being on the inside of the Zen Circle of Steve. This bountiful but hidden world reminds me of two Zen paintings in particular, both of which are unique in the history of the art form, in that they have writing inside the usually empty circle. The first was done by Namtembo, a Zen roshi (“master”) who lived from 1839 to 1925. Writing inside the circle he declares:
Within the spinning circle of life we are born. The human heart too should always be kept round and complete.The second is by Isan Shinko, an 18th century master, which has the symbol for heart inside the ensō and reads:
Keep yourself firmly centered inside here and nothing will be able to shatter you.The two messages suggest two rather different ways to cope with the outside world. One is expansive, the other more cautious. Like most people, Steve Jobs had those characteristics, and his company has those traits as well. Apple products seem to strive for “Beauty,” in all its old-fashioned, capital-B form. In using them, you experience a visual elegance and richness of experience unmatched by most other consumer items. You feel their innovation and joy, and they fill you with a round and complete heart. As Jobs himself said nearly twenty years ago in a Money magazine article:
Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.But as a corporate entity, Apple is also known as secretive and distancing. It has a closed garden philosophy. Like its founder, it often works a “doesn’t play well with others” vibe that could feel downright obsessive and reproving. Inside its shatter-proof ring of enlightenment, it’s got no time for us sorry-sack laymen. As Jobs once said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” Yes, excellence requires focus, and as Jobs was fond of saying:
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.Of course, unlike the delicate washes of ink and water that comprise a Zen ensō, the new Apple campus is an actual building. It is a Zen circle, but it is also a cenotaph. Like Étienne-Louis Boullée’s famous unbuilt cenotaph to Newton, this building will honor a man who is buried elsewhere. Both are symbolic of the universe. Both are strange monuments to bold innovation. When designed, Newton’s cenotaph was, as Jobs described his new HQ, a space ship, otherworldly by every 18th century definition of the term. There are even similarities in the plan, though the Boullée design has rings of trees around an enclosed sphere, while Foster’s campus has a ring building enclosing a vast grove. Newton’s cenotaph has lines of trees that would skirt processional roads. Apple’s plan bulges with thick groves and a light improvisation of threaded paths. Both designs honor men who were social misfits in their youths but who strove for such excellence as adults that they were lauded on a near-global scale well before their deaths. Of course, there’s nothing more “un-Zen” than a cenotaph, the most brazen act of defiance against life’s impermanence. But that is part of the contradiction of Jobs, or indeed any business person with spiritual leanings. His friend Dan Kottke playful poked fun at this schism in a letter sent to Jobs as early as 1977 and published in Businessweek:
After performing an extensive prana to the lotus feet of suchness, gaze lovingly upon picture with cosmic thoughts of cosmic relevance and profundity until phone rings. Answer phone, haggle furiously, and refuse to sell for less than $2.3 million.In the end, Jobs seems to pull it off. The words of his commencement address to the Stanford class of 2005 would take on greater resonance years later when it is clear he had, at the time, actually been fighting pancreatic cancer for nearly two years:
Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.You can’t get more Zen than that. Sean Daly is the Managing Director at Windtunnel Visualization, a brand agency and 3D design development firm in New York.
This morning Apple held a press preview of their new Grand Central store, which is set to open this Friday. The first impression of this glassless emporium, an anomaly for the company, is the respectful handling of the hallowed space. The store fills the space vacated by Metrazur restaurant, which wrapped around the Lexington Avenue side balcony. Apple's showroom takes up half of the northern balcony as well. For Mac fans, the cleaned lined furnishings will be familiar, as are the various stations spread throughout the 23,000-square-foot space. The Genius Bar is still there, as are the iPad and iPod stations, laptops, accessories, and a professional yet casual staff of more than 300. Apple, aided by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, took sight lines into consideration, as the only real hint that the store is there from the concourse are small strips of table lighting, and, of course, the company's ubiquitous apple which hangs from a grand arch centered on the balcony. It could be argued that logo competes a bit with the world famous clock at the center of the terminal. But otherwise, the interventions appear considerate and reversible.
Steve Jobs would have been proud. So would Richard Neutra. The Neutra VDL House in Silver Lake now has its own iPad App. Developed by Sarah Lorenzen and David Hartwell, the app includes stunning new pictures of the iconic modernist house, tons of information about Neutra, an annotated historic timeline of the home, guided virtual tours, and information about the house's design, construction, and materiality. We especially love the 3d models, plans, and sections, which can be rotated on axis, giving you a new understanding of the house and providing some classic iPad fun.
The world learned last night of the untimely death of Apple mastermind Steve Jobs, who succumbed to a rare cancer he had been fighting for some time. Jobs' architect, Norman Foster, was slow to acknowledge the commission of Apple's new Cupertino, CA headquarters, but he was appropriately quick to offer his condolences. Below, read Foster's tribute to the innovator who helped push the boundaries of both technology and industrial design.
With my colleagues I would like to pay tribute to Steve Jobs. Like so many millions our lives have been profoundly and positively influenced by the innovations pioneered by Steve and Apple, names which are inseparable. We were greatly privileged to know Steve as a person, as a friend and in every way so much more than a client. Steve was an inspiration and a role model. He encouraged us to develop new ways of looking at design to reflect his unique ability to weave backwards and forwards between brand strategy and the minutiae of the tiniest of internal fittings. For him no detail was small in its significance and he would be simultaneously questioning the headlines of our project together whilst he delved into its fine print. He was the ultimate perfectionist and demanded of himself as he demanded of others. We are better as individuals and certainly wiser as architects through the experience of the last two years and more of working for him. His participation was so intense and creative that our memory will be that of working with one of the truly great designers and mentors. Norman Foster Architect Chairman + Founder of Foster + Partners
The official Foster + Partners design has (finally) been released for the new Apple campus in Cupertino. At a recent Cupertino City Council meeting Steve Jobs said he was excited to centralize his campus with a building for 12,000 employees on a site currently dominated by parking lots. In the time since the Cupertino meeting, the not-so-secret news that Foster & Partners designed the giant ring has also been confirmed. The low-lying complex, described as being built at a "human scale" and largely off the grid, is expected to open in 2015. In reference to the overall design and the building's glass curvature Jobs noted, "It’s a little like a spaceship landed."
Table of Tables. It’s a meta periodic table of tables…or a chemistry lessons for design connoisseurs. Curbed posted the tongue-in-cheek infographic above: gone are helium, hydrogen, and silver; now we have coffee tables, pool tables, and nightstands. Athletic Alphabet. An ambitious Spanish graphic designer, Joan Pons Moll, has created a new typeface—with his feet. Living on the island of Menorca, with its curving, windy streets, Moll uses Run Keeper, to map his letter-shaped routes. More at the NY Times. Grand Apple. Apple’s next stop is Grand Central. Slated to open in the balcony space once home to restaurant Metrazur, Apple will forgoe its traditional glass cube designs in favor of an open plan overlooking the main concourse. New renderings posted by Gothamist show a minimal layout filled with high-tech toys. Trumping Georgia.Donald Trump will develop the two tallest towers in Georgia (the country, not the state), according to the NY Times. The Don's firm won't be directly involved with construction; instead, Silk Road Group will manage the projects. John Fotiadas Architect is designing the master plan for the residential tower slated for the Georgian city of Batumi.
After Apple unveiled its plans for a spaceship-like new headquarters by (we think) Norman Foster at a recent Cupertino city council meeting, it appears that their chief rival Google is now looking, as usual, to outdo the Apple-ites. We hear from our sources that edgy—and super green—German architect Christoph Ingenhoven is set to design the Google HQ addition, supplementing the massive GooglePlex in Mountainview (which already contains more than 65 buildings). According to the San Jose Mercury News the company has already leased an additional 9.4 acres from Mountain View at a price of $30 million and is planning to build the new office space there, accommodating new recruits, among others. Perhaps the offices will do a better job of engaging their Silicon Valley environs? Stay tuned. Or just keep Googling it. And check out some Ingenhoven designs below: