Apple installs carbon fibre roof on new theatre building
While we’ve been hearing about the design of the campus and its facilities for nearly five years, installation of the massive, curved glass panels that surround the Main Building’s spaceship-like design is about 33% complete.
Overall construction is projected to wrap by the end of this year, with the opening scheduled for 2017.
The company has paid as much attention to the precise details of Apple Campus 2 (located a few miles from its existing headquarters) as it does to its products.
In fact, the new campus required the creation of custom-made machines — which Apple calls “manipulators” — to handle the lifting and placing of nearly 900 curved glass panels, some of which measure an incredible 46 feet long and 10.5 feet wide. The project is not only a massive undertaking on the ground, but Apple is working with design firms, material suppliers and other vendors across 19 countries.
While more details about Apple’s Main Building, which will house about 13,000 employees, have trickled out in the last year, little has been revealed around the “Theatre” until now — and yes, that’s the name and spelling used internally by Apple during its development.
The 120,000-square-foot Theatre, with a capacity of 1,000 seats, is a subterranean auditorium, but that’s not to say it doesn’t make a statement from the outside.
Designed by U.K.-based architect firm Foster+Partner, the cylinder-shaped lobby can be seen at ground level and doesn’t have any columns. Instead, the space is open, encased by glass and will have stairs down to the event hall.
But perhaps the most stunning addition is its roof, which Apple believes is the largest freestanding carbon-fiber roof ever made. Created by Dubai-based Premier Composite Technologies, it’s a massive statement piece, in addition to a design feat. But please, Apple doesn’t want you to call it a UFO. The roof was added to the Theatre last month.
The circular roof is made up of 44 identical radial panels averaging 70 feet long and 11 feet wide, and each connects to a small central hub positioned in the middle.
It was assembled and tested in a Dubai desert before being shipped in pieces to Cupertino, California. It weighs 80 tons.
As of now, Apple typically rents out space for its press launches at venues such as the Moscone Center in San Francisco. But the Theatre, which will offer 360-degree views of the campus, will become the new stage where Apple will publicly debut its products to the media and, ultimately, the world.
There will be parking structures accessible to the Theatre and a pedestrian path to the Main Building, located just Northwest of the event space.
Significant progress has also been made to the main building on Apple Campus 2, which spans 2.8 million square feet. Once complete, it will soar four stories high and three below ground level.
The diameter alone (at 1,521 feet) is more than the height of the Empire State Building. The circumference is more than a mile around.
Apple is working with Germany-based seele/sedak, the same company known for designing the iconic glass cube of New York City’s Fifth Avenue Apple Store, to create the curved, structural glass for Apple Campus 2, including the exterior and interior glazing and canopies. The firm also designed the glass cylinder walls of the Theatre.
More than 900 of the 3,000 glass panels have already been installed, but they won’t be Apple’s largest design accomplishment. At the entrance to its on-campus restaurant, there will be two glass doors that span four stories high (at 92 x 52 feet, it’s about the size of a basketball court).
The 60,000-square-foot restaurant will have space inside for about 2,800 employees and another 1,200 on the outside patio.
Apple said it placed significant emphasis on taking advantage of Silicon Valley’s favorable climate to create open areas where employees can meet.
It’s also been vocal about its efforts to not only incorporate eco-friendly materials and technology — the roof of the main building is made up of solar panels — but its desire to create green space across the campus; when it opens, about 80% of the area will be landscape.
Considering how Apple is known for its precise, innovative and controlled designs, it comes as no surprise it is taking the same approach for its new headquarters, on a scale that’s never been quite seen before.