Apple’s huge new office is a lot nicer than yours

Apple finally put a date on the opening of its unusual spaceship-shaped Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Apple‘s new campus — with its round, glass structures, built according to the final plan created by founder Steve Jobs all the way back in 2011 — will welcome employees starting this April, the company said.

The new building, which will house more than 12,000 employees, promises to offer a working experience that has not yet existed anywhere else. Employees will have a fitness center that sprawls over 100,000 square feet — making the workout center alone as large as a White House and a half. The futuristic closed-loop design features Jobs’ clean design sensibility, which will even include some witty nods to the company’s products. Both the elevator buttons and the sleek toilets are reportedly inspired by the iPhone, according to Reuters.

The entire main building, constructed from enormous curved glass panels, will be 2.8 million square feet spread over four stories. The new building will be “green” in every way, surrounded by acres of trees and miles of paths, and running 100% on renewable energy. It will also be the biggest naturally ventilated building in the world, expected to operate without heating or air conditioning for three-quarters of the year.

Steve Jobs Theater
Steve Jobs Theater

In a nod to the late founder’s influence, Apple will name a portion of the campus, a 1,000-seat theater for employees, after Jobs. The company noted that the theater sits at one of the highest points of the campus, providing an overview of the entire park — perhaps a significant nod to the memory of Jobs’ ever-watchful eye.

The round building should provide an unusual workspace, though it’s not clear yet what it will look like. Architect Norman Foster has said employees working in Apple Park will be able to collaborate by moving up, down, and across the building. It’s not yet visible how precisely employees will move through the building, which, from earlier drone shots overseeing construction, looks like a doughnut with a large empty space in the middle, making for long walks from one side to another. Apple itself may not yet know how employees will interact in their new workspaces, since the building is going to be under construction for another six months after the April opening.

In life, Steve Jobs focused intensely on office design. Jobs even mandated that employees at Pixar all be forced to use the same bathrooms near the lobby, to encourage “serendipitous personal encounters,” according to biographer Walter Isaacson.

Until Apple employees move in, the company is focusing on the campus as a tribute to Jobs’ memory, including a ceremony tomorrow to name the auditorium after Jobs, on what would have been his 62nd birthday. Current Apple CEO Tim Cook elaborated on Jobs’ past plans for Apple’s future campus. “Steve’s vision for Apple stretched far beyond his time with us. He intended Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come,” he said.

The Apple Park campus, planted near Santa Clara, California, has drawn intense interest. Drones have sailed over it to capture footage and the spaceship-shaped new campus should prove a draw for a new visitors’ center nearby with an Apple store and a cafe.

Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, said she thinks the Apple Park captures his essence.

“Steve was exhilarated, and inspired, by the California landscape, by its light and its expansiveness,” she said. “It was his favorite setting for thought. Apple Park captures his spirit uncannily well.”

Employees will be the judge of how productive and collaborative the new space will make them, and whether it will have the same effect on their work as Jobs’ infamously exacting presence.