Channeling Steve Jobs, Apple seeks design perfection at new ‘spaceship’ campus

“Inside the original Macintosh computer, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs inscribed the signatures of his team, revealing his deep concern for even the hidden features of his products,” Julia Love reports for Reuters. “His last work – Apple Inc’s sprawling new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. – will be a fitting tribute: a futuristic campus built with astonishing attention to detail. From the arrangement of electrical wiring to the finish of a hidden pipe, no aspect of the 2.8 million-square-foot main building has been too small to attract scrutiny.”

“Apple has not revealed the total price tag, but former project managers estimate it at about $5 billion – a figure CEO Tim Cook did not dispute in a 2015 TV interview,” Love reports. “When completed, the campus will house up to 14,200 employees, according to the 2013 project description. The main building – which boasts the world’s largest piece of curved glass – will be surrounded by a lush canopy of thousands of trees.”

“But what was most striking to those who worked on the project was Apple managers’ insistence on treating the construction of the vast complex the same way they approach the design of pocket-sized electronics. Apple’s in-house construction team enforced many rules: No vents or pipes could be reflected in the glass. Guidelines for the special wood used frequently throughout the building ran to some 30 pages,” Love reports. “Tolerances, the distance materials may deviate from desired measurements, were a particular focus. On many projects, the standard is 1/8 of an inch at best; Apple often demanded far less, even for hidden surfaces.”

Apple Campus 2 with overlay of the U.S. Pentagon
Apple Campus 2 with overlay of the U.S. Pentagon

“When Apple tapped general contractors Holder Construction and Rudolph & Sletten to finish the main building in 2015, one of the first orders of business was finalizing a door handle for conference rooms and offices. After months of back and forth, construction workers presented their work to a manager from Apple’s in-house team, who turned the sample over and over in his hands. Finally, he said he felt a faint bump,” Love reports. “The construction team double-checked the measurements, unable to find any imperfections – down to the nanometer. Still, Apple insisted on another version. The construction manager who was so intimately involved in the door handle did not see its completion. Down to his last day, Apple was still fiddling with the design – after a year and a half of debate.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Would that they were so focused on Apple TV’s Siri Remote or a new Mac Pro or… Sigh.

The thing is a colossal distraction.

Just finally get the hell in there, so you can get back to focusing on what really matters, Apple.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “David E.” for the heads up.]


  1. “We’ve hired some great architects to work with, some of the greatest in the world I think, and we’ve come up with a design that puts 12,000 people in one building. We’ve seen these office parks with lots of buildings, and we think they get boring pretty fast, so we like to do something better than that. It’s a circle, and so it’s curved all the way around, there’s not a straight piece of glass in this whole building, it’s all curved. We’ve used our experience in making retail buildings all over the world, and we know how to make the biggest pieces of glass in the world for architectural use.
    Today about 20% of the space is landscape most of it are several big asphalt parking lots. We want to completely change this and we want to make 80% of it landscape.”

    “Steve Jobs Bio: The Unauthorized Autobiography”

    1. Agreed.

      But happens when they get in there?

      Software is buggy like never before; killing products lines such as monitors, routers, pro software; ignoring the Mac line and Prosumer almost completely.

      Hell, you can do all that in a rundown roadside roach motel that doesn’t cost millions!

      Think detail again and apply it everywhere in the company, not just in the curved glass walls and floors.

  2. I wouldn’t mind this attention to detail (in fact I would love it) if it weren’t for the fact that other areas appear to have suffered. Apple seem to like having comparatively small teams working on things which is fine – too many cooks can spoil the broth – but even when Jobs was around there was the sense that they were growing to the point that those small teams couldn’t handle it. Whilst things certainly aren’t disastrous I think Apple need to focus and fix the things that have suffered – most of which are things we as customer pay for directly.

  3. Not another company in the world pays attention to quality and detail like Apple.

    And the consumers that vote with their wallet, ‘trump’ ALL the nay sayers and FUD inventors.

  4. I’ve worked in companies where there’s a big construction project and a big move… it becomes a second job to everyone at the top. Got to run the company, and have to coordinate and juggle hundreds of construction questions.

    I have no doubt that this has eaten up many cycles of Tim’s mind and those others in charge.

    Look for a huge breakout when the project is finally complete.

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