You’ve likely heard of Apple’s new, multi-billion-dollar headquarters commissioned before Steve Jobs’ death. The project is now complete, and as you might expect, it’s already received many accolades. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from the complex.
Apple’s technologically advanced headquarters campus, Apple Park, includes a visitor center, parkland and the Steve Jobs Theater. Located in Cupertino, Calif., the campus cost around $5 billion to create. It also runs on renewable energy, thanks to one of the biggest solar installations in the world.
Architecturally, one of the most unique features of Apple Park is the theater, which seats up to 1,000 people at a time. Since Apple is always on the cutting edge of technology, studying this theater gives us a glimpse into what buildings might look like in the very near future. In the meantime, it is an architectural wonder worth examining.
Some of the more unique features of the theater are:
1. It’s Underground
The theater is situated four stories underground, which offers several advantages architecturally. One of the most significant benefits, especially for a theater, is noise abatement. The natural insulation of the earth enhances both the aesthetics and acoustics of the theater. The sound doesn’t bounce off the walls the way it might in an above-ground building. The audience will feel almost like they are in a safe cocoon waiting for the perfect sound to reverberate through the building.
Also, facilities built underground tend to use less energy to heat and cool, which can save additional resources. Even though the facility runs 100 percent on renewable energy, there are still many reasons to conserve even the renewable energy available, so it is there for other items that require more energy to run. The smart design of the building and its underground location both play into the lowered energy costs to run Steve Jobs Theater.
2. Acoustic Lobby
The massive lobby area of the theater is designed to have amazing acoustics. The 155-foot-high ceiling is made from a single piece of metallic carbon fiber. Glass walls rise 22 feet high. The sound reverberates without any columns to block it.
The lobby was designed for multiple purposes, including gathering space before a show, for hosting small events and as a transition from the outdoors into the theater. This lobby is the only above-ground part of the theater, and is circular with all sides exposed, creating an almost spaceship-like look and futuristic feel.
3. Earthquake Safe
Anyone who has seen the devastation of a natural disaster knows how important it is to be prepared and to have a safe place to go should the worst happen. Earthquakes are a reality in California, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn the Steve Jobs Theater was built to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude of 8 or more and keep the occupants inside safe.
Apple has accomplished this feat with a technology called pendulum isolators. These devices are basically ball bearings that allow sections of the building to stay in one place while the earth moves and shifts all around. The theater remains stable, even when the surrounding ground is shaking like crazy.
Apple claims the theater will remain standing, even if the glass panels in the theater’s design shatter. The company says the theater’s lobby area can lose up to half its glass panels without affecting the integrity of the structure.
4. Wireless Open Space
In addition to the lobby being open, massive and beautiful, it doesn’t take long to notice there aren’t wires running from anywhere. In a typical building, you might have columns or walls hiding wires. But, with the Steve Jobs Theater’s minimalist design, there is nowhere to hide those wires.
Obviously such a venue has to have wires, pipes and speakers. Apple’s ingenious design hides all these items within the carbon-fiber roof. The extremely thin joints between glass panels hold the water pipes and wiring. They also placed speakers in the roof. Tiny, barely visible holes allow sound to fill the room.
5. Additional Little Touches
The elevators are also unique in this theater. They are custom-made and rotate around as they go up and down. If a passenger steps into the elevator, they might exit through that same door, facing a different direction.
The theater’s seats are upholstered with leather, and with a reported cost of $14,000 each, it isn’t too much of a leap to assume they aren’t just comfy, but also have some amazing capabilities for theater guests.
There are also rumors of a secret demo room beneath a staircase. Overall, the entire building has a science-fiction, futuristic feel that can’t help but impress visitors.
The Steve Jobs Theater is unlike any other building, both in appearance and in cutting-edge technology. This type of building is likely to be the future of architecture, where buildings are designed for sustainability and not just appearance — though its appearance is pretty spectacular, as well.