Steve Jobs’ ‘Mothership’ Apple campus costs have ballooned from under $3 billion to nearly $5 billion

“At what turned out to be his last public appearance, Steve Jobs stood before the Cupertino City Council on June 7, 2011, to present plans for a new corporate campus for Apple,” Peter Burrows reports for Businessweek. “Jobs noted, ‘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.'”

“He had that right. Since 2011, the budget for Apple’s Campus 2 has ballooned from less than $3 billion to nearly $5 billion, according to five people close to the project who were not authorized to speak on the record,” Burrows reports. “If their consensus estimate is accurate, Apple’s expansion would eclipse the $3.9 billion being spent on the new World Trade Center complex in New York, and the new office space would run more than $1,500 per square foot—three times the cost of many top-of-the-line downtown corporate towers.”

Burrows reports, “Before his death, Jobs had hoped to break ground in 2012 and to move in by the end of 2015… At the company’s annual meeting on Feb. 27, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the move-in date has been pushed back to 2016. One reason for the new timetable, say three people who have spoken to Apple personnel about the project, is that the company has been working with lead architect Foster + Partners to cut $1 billion from the budget before proceeding.”

Apple Campus 2 project - "Mothership" - Cupertino, CA


Apple Campus 2 project - "Mothership" - Cupertino, CA
Apple's "Mothership" Campus 2 - Street view from East Homestead Road

Apple Campus 2 project - "Mothership" - Cupertino, CA

Tons more (6 square kilometers of curved glass!) in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: While it’s not like Apple doesn’t have the money, perhaps they should have shaped the building not as a giant ring, but instead as an albatross?

Here’s Steve pitching the campus plans to the Cupertino City Council on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at the Cupertino Community Hall:

Related articles:
Steve Jobs’ ‘Mothership’ Apple campus delayed until mid-2016 – November 21, 2012
New images of Apple’s ‘Mothership’ campus show amazing detail – September 9, 2012
California Governor Brown fast-tracks Apple’s ‘Mothership’ HQ – June 30, 2012
Apple submits additional info, plans, renderings of Mothership campus in Cupertino (with images) – March 10, 2012
Apple’s Mothership campus solar roof will be among biggest in U.S. – December 7, 2011
Apple submits updated Mothership campus plans to Cupertino, reveals stunning renderings – December 7, 2011
Analyst: 170-acre solar farm, ‘mothership’ campus to push Apple expenses to $8 billion in 2012 – October 31, 2011
New Yorker architecture critic: Apple’s proposed Mothership campus is ‘scary’ and ‘troubling’ – September 27, 2011
Apple’s infinite loop: Mothership campus impressive but enigmatic – September 14, 2011
Architecture critic: Apple’s new mothership campus will be a retrograde cocoon – September 12, 2011
Cupertino Mayor Wong: Apple’s mothership campus ‘definitely not a done deal’ – September 9, 2011
Apple’s mothership campus: What’s the message? – August 22, 2011
City of Cupertino posts further details on Apple mothership campus – August 13, 2011
Apple’s new ‘Mothership’ campus: Full details and gallery – June 16, 2011
Steve Jobs wanted to build mothership campus nearly three decades ago – June 14, 2011
Cupertino mayor: ‘There is no chance we are saying no’ to Apple Mothership (with video) – June 9, 2011
Steve Jobs presents giant 12,000 employee ‘spaceship’ campus to Cupertino City Council (with video) – June 8, 2011


  1. As long as the money is being well spent. Selecting the right materials and details at a good price. Not gauging by unionized contractors etc. Apple is famous for their shrewd manufacturing practices. Hopefully they can apply this same sense to this project.
    For example, the attention to detail, layout and aesthetics should be uncompromising. But they should not be throwing money away on stupid engineering decision/oversights and unvetted bids by constructions companies. Apple is not the government and we kind of expect them not to blow the budget because of bureaucratic idiocy.

  2. The pharaohs had their pyramids, let the man have his monument. I think it will be cool. He came up with the cash, time moves so quickly and all we are left with is our achievements. Let a child some day see the building and say ‘what’s this all about?’

  3. As long as Apple doesn’t kill the albatross, they wont have to chain it around their neck

    Or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the cliff notes version of the story ^_^


    When planning for the new Pixar building, leadership originally wanted something similar to a standard Hollywood studio with a number of separate buildings. However, the Disney artists at Pixar said multiple buildings made them feel isolated. Not only did Jobs agree, but he ordered one building with a large atrium in the center that would encourage “random encounters.”

    And so it was; the building was designed so that people could meet and talk in the central atrium. John Lasseter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer said “I kept running into people that I hadn’t seen for months. I’ve never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.

    Sadly, Apple’s leadership seems not to have the same pragmatic approach. This new building looks like a very poor configuration for interaction — the center of the halo should house all kinds of collaborative space. I’m not seeing how this building delivers improved efficiency or collaboration by any measure.

  5. The publicity this office/ring/space ship will generate over the years will be worth the cost.
    How much was the publicity worth from the New York cube?

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