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A spaceship in Cupertino: Apple's journey to build a new headquarters

Apple is a stupendously wealthy company, and it's in the middle of building a new corporate headquarters befitting of that success. The Norman Foster-designed Campus 2 — commonly referred to as "The Spaceship" due to its distinctive circular design — will add 2,800,000 square feet of office space to the company's Cupertino, California operations, and it will hold more than 12,000 employees. It will also be entirely powered by renewable energy, thanks to one of the largest solar arrays ever designed for a corporate campus. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs oversaw the building's design before his death, but the campus has struggled to get off the ground. It's reportedly $2 billion over budget and it's been delayed by at least a year. It's currently set to be opened in 2016.

  • Nathan Ingraham

    Jul 14, 2015

    Nathan Ingraham

    Apple's spaceship is rising

    If you're a major company in Silicon Valley, it's becoming table stakes to have an awe-inspiring campus for your employees to head to every day. Google, Facebook, and Apple are all planning new buildings and workplaces (though Google's marvel recently hit a pretty major roadblock), and Apple's "spaceship" design promises to be among the most iconic office buildings out there. We're getting a glimpse at how construction is going thanks to an image that the city of Cupertino quietly released a few weeks ago that is making the rounds today — and there's no doubt that the giant, circular building is starting to slowly resemble what we've been ogling in artist renders for years now.

    Correction, 7/15/15, 12:00PM ET: This article originally stated that the photo of Apple's campus construction was just released; we've since learned that it is several weeks old. We've updated this post to reflect that.

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  • Carl Franzen

    Sep 22, 2014

    Carl Franzen

    Apple CEO Tim Cook says new spaceship campus will be 'greenest building on the planet'

    Artist's illustration of Apple spaceship Campus 2 in Cupertino
    Artist's illustration of Apple spaceship Campus 2 in Cupertino
    Apple/Cupertino City Council

    Apple is building an enormous new ring-shaped campus for its headquarters in Cupertino, California, the design and overall futuristic qualities of which have inspired the nickname "the Spaceship campus." Although construction on the campus (actual name Campus 2) has scarcely begun, Apple CEO Tim Cook is already boasting that that the building will be great for the rest of us earthlings who won't work there. Speaking today at the environmental nonprofit event Climate Week NYC, Cook said "we're building a new headquarters that I think will be the greenest building on the planet." (his comments start 1:15 into this video).

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  • Aug 31, 2014

    Vlad Savov

    Apple's new spaceship is looking more like a landing site

    When it's complete, Apple's Campus 2 will resemble an enormous space disc descended upon the leafy suburbs of Cupertino, but as of today, it's looking more like a dustbowl landing site. Still, just seeing the outline for the futuristic new headquarters is impressive, with the nearby blocks of housing giving a good sense of the grand scale at which Apple's next home is being built. A GoPro-equipped DJI Phantom 2 drone has done an 8-minute aerial tour of the site, taking in a full 360-degree view of its surroundings and eventually descending for a closer look at the foundations presently being laid down.

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  • Rich McCormick

    Nov 20, 2013

    Rich McCormick

    Apple's 'spaceship' campus earns final approval from its home city

    Apple has received final approval for its planned "spaceship" campus from the city of Cupertino. The city council gave its formal approval in a vote on Tuesday, after it had unanimously agreed to the construction of the 176-acre California campus in October. Construction will begin with the demolition of the Hewlett-Packard office buildings currently on site later this year.

    By agreeing to build the so-called Campus 2, CNET reports Apple will enter into a 20-year-long development agreement with Cupertino, and will increase the amount of tax it pays to the city. Last year Cupertino's council refunded $6.2 million of the $12.7 million in sales tax Apple generated for the city; this year that rebate will be reduced from 50 percent of the tax Apple pays to 35 percent.

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  • Chris Welch

    Nov 11, 2013

    Chris Welch

    New renders of Apple's future campus offer glimpse of life at the spaceship

    Apple is set to receive final approval on its "spaceship" headquarters from Cupertino City Council on November 15th. The city has already unanimously voted in favor of the new campus, expected to open sometime in 2016, and is likely to continue that show of support with Friday's vote. But before it does so, the city has released yet more renders of Apple's future home. These new images provide some sense of what working there will be like — much like the obsessively detailed miniature model unveiled last month.

    For the first time, we get a good look at the campus entrance (flanked by two huge Apple banners), an employee fitness center, and two parking facilities. The transit system that will shuttle Apple's workers to and from those parking areas is also pictured. By now it should be obvious, but this is unlike any other corporate HQ that has come before it. Following last month's approval, CEO Tim Cook said the "spaceship" will play host to Apple's "innovation and creativity for decades to come."

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  • Chris Ziegler

    Oct 27, 2013

    Chris Ziegler

    Apple presents video of new headquarters ahead of Cupertino city council vote

    Showing all the polish of an Apple television spot, the company played a new video detailing its so-called Campus 2 — better known as "the spaceship" thanks to its enormous circular footprint — for members of Cupertino's city council last week. The presentation comes ahead of a planned November 15th vote, which would be a final approval before groundbreaking can begin. Architect Norman Foster makes an appearance in the clip, who notes that Steve Jobs told him "don't think of me as your client, think of me as one of your team" when the two first started working on Campus 2's design in 2009 (Jobs famously made an appearance before the council in 2011 to lobby for the facility's approval shortly before his death).

    The video is clearly geared toward buttering up Cupertino residents and council members, detailing how the campus will restore native vegetation, use 100 percent renewable energy, and host one of the largest solar arrays for a corporate campus in the world. The city council is widely expected to approve construction with little to no opposition, which Foster says is anticipated to start this year.

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  • Jacob Kastrenakes

    Oct 16, 2013

    Jacob Kastrenakes

    Tim Cook celebrates Cupertino's approval of Apple spaceship campus

    Tim Cook has a small reason to celebrate today, as Apple was finally given approval by the Cupertino City Council to build its new "spaceship" campus. "Our home for innovation and creativity for decades to come," Cook says of the campus in a tweet. Apple still has a long way to go before it'll be moving in, however. Should construction go as scheduled, the new campus won't begin holding Apple employees until sometime in mid-2016.

    The project has already been pushed back once — construction was originally scheduled to begin last year — and there are some concerns that the project's budget may be running high as well. But the major hurdle to beginning construction has now been passed nonetheless. While the San Jose Mercury News reports that Cupertino's city council will have to meet one additional time, on November 15th, to issue a final approval, it says that after last night's vote the Apple's spaceship campus has effectively received all of the approval it needs.

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  • Chris Welch

    Oct 11, 2013

    Chris Welch

    Apple's 'spaceship' campus shown to scale in gorgeous miniature model

    We've seen plenty of mockups, renders, and even floor plans for Apple's proposed "spaceship" campus, but a new, intricately detailed model provides the best look yet at what Apple is hoping to build. The model you see above was shown to the San Jose Mercury News ahead of an October 15th Cupertino city council vote on the project.

    And it's a sight to behold; the model provides a genuine sense of scale for the circular campus, parking structures, and other buildings Apple plans to erect nearby if given the OK. It also exudes an obsessive focus on detail. The perimeter of the spaceship itself is lit up to heighten the sense of realism, and you'll also see miniature forestation, nearby homes, roadways, and even tiny people dispersed throughout the vast model. It's the sort of model young kids would kill for and — assuming Apple can keep its budget in check — a stunning preview of what's to come.

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  • Matt Brian

    Apr 25, 2013

    Matt Brian

    Apple delays construction of secondary office building as part of Campus 2 budget savings

    Apple will delay the construction of a secondary research and development building on its "spaceship" campus in an attempt to drive down the cost of developing its new headquarters. In a filing with the City of Cupertino, Apple said construction of the office building on North Tantau Avenue will now commence as part of Phase 2 of its campus development, a delay that will see work begin once its iconic spaceship building has opened in 2016.

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  • Aaron Souppouris

    Apr 4, 2013

    Aaron Souppouris

    Apple Campus 2 nearly $2 billion over budget and behind schedule, says Bloomberg

    Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting that the budget for Apple's new "spaceship" campus has risen from $3 billion to "nearly $5 billion." Citing five anonymous sources, the publication notes that the stretched budget would make Apple Campus 2 more expensive than the World Trade Center complex currently under construction. The project was originally scheduled for completion in 2015, but the move-in date has now been pushed back to 2016 as architects Foster + Partners search for a way to cut the current cost by a billion dollars.

    The new campus was announced back in 2011 at what was to be Steve Jobs' last public appearance. Even at $3 billion the budget for what is essentially an office complex was high, but Jobs believed the cost was justified as it could become "the best office building in the world." Speaking to the Cupertino City Council, Jobs said that "there isn’t a straight piece of glass on the whole building... and as you know if you build things, this isn’t the cheapest way to build them."

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  • Dante D'Orazio

    Feb 27, 2013

    Dante D'Orazio

    Apple plans to move into new 'spaceship' Cupertino campus in 2016

    On today's annual shareholder meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he expects the company will move into its new Cupertino Campus 2, nicknamed the "spaceship," in 2016. Additionally, the CEO stated that the company is in continued talks with the city to gain approval for the project, and he said that "we hope to break ground later this year." The timetable provided by Tim Cook is a year later than what the company first said when it revealed plans for the campus. At that time, it said that it planned to break ground in 2012 in time for a 2015 move-in date. Today's word from Tim Cook confirms a Bloomberg report from last November that said the campus wouldn't be ready until mid-2016.

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  • Andrew Webster

    Jun 9, 2012

    Andrew Webster

    Apple Campus 2 floor plans take you inside the 'spaceship'

    We've already seen a number of renders of Apple Campus 2 — the company's proposed "spaceship" campus — that show what it will look like from the outside. But if you're curious about the inner workings of the massive building, Apple has submitted a series of floor plans to the city of Cupertino that give an inside look. The plans show the campus and its interior from multiple angles, and you can see everything from the where the campus' security line will be placed to just how many excerise rooms Apple plans on building (there's even a basketball court). Of particular interest, though, is what's going on beneath the surface — the campus will include a four level basement that features an auditorium and 4,300 parking spaces. The building has yet to be approved by the city, but if it does Apple is hoping to have it ready for some time in 2015.

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  • Chris Welch

    May 21, 2012

    Chris Welch

    Apple outlines Campus 2 'spaceship' for Cupertino neighbors

    Apple has reached out to its neighbors in Cupertino, CA with a mass mailing that details the company's ambitious plans for its upcoming "spaceship" campus. The letter, signed by CFO Peter Oppenheimer and obtained by 9to5Mac, lays out current plans for the research facility — now formally referred to as Apple Campus 2. Much of the content within is rehashed from an appearance the late Steve Jobs made before Cupertino's city council in June of last year. But seeing as we doubt every local resident keeps up with the latest Apple gossip, it's a handy summarization for those interested.

    Oppenheimer details the company's plans to demolish 26 buildings to make way for the futuristic circular building that will total 2.8 million square feet and house 13,000 employees. Further, he makes a point to address any concerns that the project could have a negative impact on those living nearby, emphasizing that Apple Campus 2 will be "set back from the street" and was designed with respect to neighbors in mind. As you might expect, Oppenheimer makes sure to highlight the company's environmental goals for the project. "What's currently a sea of asphalt will be transformed into nearly 120 acres of green space," he says, and goes on to reveal that there will be no manufacturing or "heavy industrial activity" taking place on site.

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  • Jamie Keene

    Dec 8, 2011

    Jamie Keene

    Apple's 'spaceship' campus gets shown in new renders

    Cupertino City Council has released a new set of renders and floor plans of the forthcoming Apple campus, giving locals and fanboys a glimpse of the company's future home just a couple of miles from One Infinite Loop. The new buildings are dominated by the enormous central ring — it's almost 1200 feet in diameter and was dubbed a "spaceship" by Steve Jobs when he first presented it to the council — with a landscaped, park-like space in the center. This landscaping is a key element of the design of the campus, with native trees including Redwoods, Ash, Maples, and Gums aimed to emulate the natural environment rather than the asphalt that currently dominates the area. Orchards of apples, apricots, plums, and cherries also play a key part of the design — possibly in reference to one of Jobs' earliest jobs tending apples on a farm. The green theme is continued with the ecologically friendly low-carbon power plant that provides electricity to the site.

    The new development also contains an array research and development buildings, a fitness center, parking garages, and an underground auditorium. While the design is still working through the planning process, Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong said back in September that "there is no chance we are saying no." Work is expected to begin on the new campus in the new year, with Apple set to move in in 2015.

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