We visited Apple Park, Apple’s super modern HQ

This Monday was the opening keynote of WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference. Frandroid was present at Apple Park for the occasion and we were able to take a (short) tour of the owner. Guided tour.

The central building, nicknamed the Ring or the Donut // Source: FRANDROID — Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

It is an event rare enough to be underlined. When WWDC 2022, for the return of public conferences at Apple, the Californian brand let journalists, developers and other guests of the event walk around Apple Park (in a somewhat framed way). For the first time in several visits, it was thus possible for us to film, photograph the places to show them to you. Follow the leader !

70 hectares and 4 years of work

Apple Park is quite an impressive place. Wanted by Steve Jobs, who had understood that his Infinite Loop campus would quickly be too narrow for the ambitions he intended for his company, the 70-hectare site in the heart of Cupertino (southeast of San Francisco) is intended to be a small haven of peace in the heart of Silicon Valley, just a stone’s throw from the old site.

A site which nevertheless cost the trifle of 5 billion dollars to the firm which, to build it, bought the campus of the HP company, the place where Steve Jobs did his first internship and one of the most emblematic of Silicon Valley, and adjacent land in strict secrecy in 2010.

It will have required four years of work before its official opening in 2017, during the enthronement of the iPhone X, that of 10 years. This green setting designed by the firm Foster + Partners revolves around the Ring, the enormous central building which houses the offices, laboratories and everything that makes up the creative abundance of Apple.

apple park solar panels
Aerial view of the Ring of Apple Park and its multiple solar panels // Source: Daniel L. Lu

What is striking upon entering is how omnipresent greenery is at Apple Park. More than 9,000 apricot trees have been planted there in tribute to the childhood of Steve Jobs and the desire to preserve nature is marked at every corner of the park. The environment, a definitely key subject at Apple.

From the design of the project, Steve Jobs had wanted the buildings to be covered with solar panels, for a water recycling and purification system to be considered and introduced. In addition, no car can circulate on the site. They must all stay in the huge reception car park (some 10,000 spaces). The rest can be done by bike (available everywhere) or by electric cart.

Nature in the heart of Apple Park

On the occasion of the WWDC 2022 developer conference, we were able to enter the central vessel, this Ring, also nicknamed the “Donut” because of its circular shape and the garden located in its center. It is by an external staircase in white stone that we arrive at the entrance of the central building.

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The multiple glass floors of the Ring allow light to shine through absolutely everywhere in its bays and halls. We understand that Tim Cook and his family like to film videos there that now serve as keynotes. Everything is neat and Apple applies to its products the same attention to design as between its walls. A huge canteen like no other occupies a good part of the ground floor. It is through this that we will access this Monday to the space dedicated to the keynote, a sort of open-air cinema with deckchairs for the developers and a giant screen (but still comfortable wooden seats in the back for the journalists and guests).

In the center of the lawn, we can see the famous rainbow arch erected for the 10th anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs in 2021 and also inaugurated in the presence of Lady Gaga. We will only see it from afar. Apple park ring rainbowThe rainbow arch installed for the 10th anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death in 2021 // Source: FRANDROID — Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

If the videos of the keynotes have become accustomed to showing the arch in flight, the taking possession of the lawn by the visitors of the day has left it at a distance and in free access for the 11,000 or so employees of the brand in the apple that the site welcomed before the Covid daily. The face-to-face has resumed smoothly at Apple…

Apple Park WWDC exterior
An even more crowded Apple Park than usual for WWDC 22 // Source: FRANDROID — Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

The Steve Jobs Theater, the marble tribute

Leaving the Ring, we take the direction of the Steve Jobs Theater, place of all the last keynotes outside WWDC before the Covid. A secluded building, positioned at the top of a small hill which shines with its architecture with sumptuous finishes. A very wide space welcomes the visitor of the day, under a carbon fiber ceiling reminiscent of a flying saucer placed. The elevator, whose particularity is to turn on itself while going down towards the conference room, sits in a corner.

Apple park steve jobs theater
The Steve Jobs Theater // Source: FRANDROID — Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

As if to go up to the Ring or to the terrace of the Visitor Center, the staircase (here in marble) is drowned in the matching white walls and the whole is designed in one and the same piece, the walls even hiding the rare doors impeccably leading to spaces away from prying eyes.

The auditorium bears the name of the former boss of Apple. He will not welcome us that day and we will not have the opportunity to sit in the large wooden and leather seats which would cost the trifle of a few thousand dollars each. But know that they are particularly elegant and comfortable. Not serious, the site visit was an opportunity to intercept the new master of Apple Park for a photo.

And we are not well there with @Tim_Cook ? #WWDC22 pic.twitter.com/Np2SNDTC7S

— Melinda Davan-Soulas (@Melinda_DS) June 6, 2022

If we were lucky enough to be able to wander (relatively) in Apple Park, it is a rare privilege. For the simply curious, the visit is generally limited to the vast Visitor Center located on the other side of the main street. The magnificent glass building houses an Apple Store with a few exclusive items (including t-shirts), a Caffé Macs, a terrace offering a 180° view of Apple Park.

Apple store visitor center
The Apple Store in the visitor center // Source: FRANDROID – Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS
Apple park visitor center mockup
The Apple Park model // Source: FRANDROID – Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

A huge model occupies a space on the ground floor. Armed with an iPad, she allows an augmented reality tour of all the buildings on the site, from the car park to the huge fitness room (10,000 m² and Zen-inspired in Italian stone and wood), via the sport (multiple football and basketball pitches) or even the Steve Jobs Theater whose guts you can see. An experience worth watching.

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Our Apple Park tour ends under the olive trees that adorn the plaza in front of the Visitor Center, shaded by the California sun that lit up the first day of WWDC 2022.

apple park visitor center exterior olive trees

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We visited Apple Park, Apple’s super modern HQ

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