Laurene Powell Jobs is building Steve’s dream home

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Steve is finally getting his dream home.
Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC

Steve Jobs was such a perfectionist that, for years, he didn’t fill his house with furniture simply because he couldn’t find items that measured up to his high standards.

Which is why it is oddly fitting that only now — approaching five years after the former Apple CEO’s death — is work finally set to begin on building Steve Jobs’ dream family house on land he bought way back in 1984.

How a California real estate developer helped create Apple as we know it

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A classic promotional shot emphasizes the stylish open-plan living found in an Eichler home. Photo: Eichler
A vintage promotional shot emphasizes the stylish open-plan living found in an Eichler home. Photo: Eichler

With an innovative architectural style that brought elegant living to the masses, real estate developer Joseph Eichler left an indelible mark on California in the 1960s.

His beautifully simple blueprints also had an undeniable impact on Apple’s co-founders — although Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs took very different lessons from his work. Remarkably, Eichler’s design philosophy continues to shape Apple’s products, inside and out, to this day.

“I was very lucky to grow up in an Eichler,” Wozniak told Cult of Mac, referring to his family’s four-bedroom home in Sunnyvale, California. “It greatly influenced my liking of simplicity and open style. I like it whenever I see those attributes in any architecture.”

Step up to 10 incredible, Apple-worthy staircases

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The Apple Store on  Boylston Street in Boston boasts a remarkable spiral staircase. Photo: Joseph Thornton/Flickr CC
The Apple Store on Boylston Street in Boston boasts a remarkable spiral staircase. Photo: Joseph Thornton/Flickr CC

If you’ve ever walked into a flagship Apple Store unconvinced of the magic of Cupertino’s products, a wondrous curvy, glass staircase might have softened your psyche.

Apple’s retail outlets are almost as well known for award-winning architecture and eye-catching staircases as for the MacBooks, iPads and iPhones on sale. But Apple Stores aren’t the only places to make vertical trips seem like a magical journey.

7 beautiful workplaces that put yours to shame

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FULLSCREEN

Buildings you wouldn't mind commuting to

If the first thing you do upon arriving at work every day is cast a sad look at the plain, monolithic block in which you spend almost a quarter of your week, you might be interested to know that some people work in places that are not only better-looking than your office, but actually downright beautiful.

These seven buildings all come courtesy of Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. And some of them are even public buildings that you could visit, if only to pretend you got paid to go there every day.

Just don't start answering the phones while you're there. Receptionists kind of hate that.

Halifax Central Library (above)

This building opened this week and is Schmidt Hammer Lassen's latest project. Its four-giant-block construction might look like a set of hastily assembled LEGO boxes, but each section aligns with one of the adjoining building's streets. Additionally, the orange of the third layer matches the brick in surrounding buildings.

The library serves as a "multifunctional cultural hub with direct accessibility to the vibrant surrounding urban context of historic and new buildings, and the buzz of downtown," according to the firm's official website.

Photo: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Urban Mountain

This project is still in the proposal stage, but it aims to expand an existing structure in Oslo by more than half while being more ecologically friendly. The patches of green on the outside of the building are part of this plan and also serve to make the structure's eco-responsibilty visible. Those spots are actually plants that are part of the air-intake system. The designers call them "lungs," and they are there to "clean, humidify and reduce the CO2-concentration of the incoming air for the comfort of the staff and visitors. " Other innovations include "solar chimneys" that channel heat into a rooftop greenhouse and a massive, 35,000 cubic-foot ice-storage area that contributes to the building's heating and cooling.

Photo: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Nykredit HQ

The home of Danish financial-services company Nykredit in Copenhagen is a ten-story, transparent cube with a wide-open central atrium. Inside, the building has meeting rooms that hang in space like that prison cell where they kept Magneto in the first two X-Men films. So if you ever work there and find yourself stuck in a boring meeting, just imagine that you're only in that room because you're too badass for normal jail.

Photo: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

The Crystal

It's actually possible to walk underneath this building in Copenhagen, Denmark, although I don't know if I could do it. It's an extension for Danish financial-services corporation Nykredit, and it is "designed to interact with their surroundings, offering a subtle connection between the formal architecture of the Glyptotek Museum of Ancient and Modern Art, and the waterfront area which forms the setting for the new building."

Photo: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Office Tower Warsaw

This 600-foot tall high-rise in Poland looks as much like a sculpture as it does a home for offices and financing, and it's both. It's made of three rectangular volumes and "offers a spatial coherence between roof and street level. The lobby at street level, with its spectacular shaped ceiling, corresponds with the sloping shapes of the rooftops." It even has solar panels built into its roofs and contains apparatus to harvest rainwater, therefore giving it a third duty as an engine of conservation.

Photo: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Groendalsvej

Aarhus, Denmark hosts this green-clad curiosity, which aims to be the first zero-energy office building in the country. Its construction includes about 96 percent of the material left over from the building that previously stood on this site, and its abundance of windows works to regulate temperature and maximize natural light.

Photo: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

City of Westminster College

It would probably be a bit scary to work on the top floor of this shifted building, but that doesn't mean it doesn't look amazing. City of Westminster College in London features open learning spaces and "appears as a clean-cut, modern building with a distinct Scandinavian heritage. The building’s simple geometric forms rotate around a terraced atrium, creating a unifying yet flexible organization."

Photo: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Apple wins supreme engineering award for glass lantern store in Turkey

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The glass lantern Apple Store at Zorlu Center in Istanbul. Photo: Apple

 

Apple has won another architectural award for the innovative glass engineering used to create its impossibly perfect glass lantern store in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Apple Store at the Zorlu Center in Turkey took home the Supreme award for structural engineering excellence from this year’s Structural Awards, and was also honored for its excellence in structural design for a retail building.

Why The New Spaceship Campus Is The Biggest Apple Product Ever Built

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Apple's spaceship campus as it will eventually appear.
Apple's spaceship campus as it will eventually appear.

This story first appeared in Cult of Mac Magazine 

Architecture hasn’t really ever been considered too important in the brick and mortar-averse tech industry. It wasn’t all that long ago that digital utopians proclaimed physical geography dead altogether, with a vocal minority apparently pleased to leave the actual world behind them and embrace the cyberspace of William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the technological breakthroughs of Silicon Valley have advanced almost inversely to the region’s architecture. In a brave new world of lush rolling hills and the always impressive San Francisco Bay, the most that the majority of companies have managed to come up with are drab industrial parks filled with two-story, cubicle-lined buildings.

The Critics Are Wrong – Apple’s Spaceship Campus Is Pure Awesome

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Spaceship 2

Apple is still moving forward to build its $5 billion, 176-acre campus Cupertino “spaceship” Campus 2 headquarters, expected to open in three years.

Critics have been attacking it since Steve Jobs first proposed it to the Cupertino City Council.

And since that poignant moment, which was Jobs’s last public appearance, the campus project has evolved and changed and, as I write this, the old HP buildings on the property are being demolished.

Here’s what we know about the spaceship campus so far, and also what the critics have been saying. 

The property will be capable of holding 14,200 employees. Some 12,000 of those will be in the circular mothership building, and the rest in 600,000 square feet of office, research and development buildings along one of the adjacent streets. Due to ballooning costs, the extraneous buildings have been delayed for phase 2 of the project, to come later. So the initial project will include only the giant bagel and supporting infrastructure at a cost currently estimated at $5 billion.

The spaceship building will be four stories high, but continue underground. The radius of the underground portion will be much wider than the visible above-ground part. In fact, so much of the campus, parking, underground tunnels and facilities will be underground that trucks will be removing soil 24/7 for six months in order to make space for these structures.

The main building will be a marvel of innovation in heat and energy. The roof will hold 700,000 square feet of roof-mounted solar panels. That energy source, plus a natural gas facility, will provide most of the campus’s electricity. Combined with solar and wind contracts, the building will achieve a net zero energy state, meaning that it will consume the same amount that it produces.

Because the building’s exterior walls will be all glass, a crazy computerized temperature control system will open and close giant shutters and windows. “Solatubes” will pipe sunlight throughout the structure to reduce the need for electric lights.

The campus will have a four-story garage that’s massively larger than the largest parking structure in the city of San Francisco — the one at Moscone Center where Apple will stop holding announcements in favor of an underground 1,000-seat amphitheater at the new campus. The total campus will support 10,980 parking spaces.

The giant spaceship building was originally white. It has since been upgraded to black (no “gold” or “champagne” option has yet been proposed).

As Jobs emphasized at his City Council product announcement, the building will feature a historically unprecedented use of glass. The building will have nearly 4 miles of curved glass, manufactured and bent in Germany, then shipped to California in 40-feet by 26-feet sheets. These panes are being manufactured with a very sophisticated process that cold-bends them and laminates them to prevent clouding.

In the City Council rollout, Jobs said: “It’s a circle, and so it’s curved all the way around. As you know if you build things, this is not the cheapest way to build something. There’s not a straight piece of glass on this building, it’s all curved. And we’ve used our experience in making retail buildings all over the world now, and we know how to make the biggest pieces of glass in the world for architectural use.”

What the Critics Are Saying

The New Yorker suggested Apple’s plans are a sign of “imperial hubris,” a “twenty-first-century version of the Pentagon.”

Gizmodo said it will be “ridiculously lavish.”

And one Apple investor publicly said, “It would take some convincing for me to understand why $5 billion is the right number for a project like this.”

These neatly summarize the criticism. Basically, what they’re saying is that it’s too awesome, too far-reaching, too ambitious and too expensive. It would be better to build another set of cookie-cutter boring buildings that blight the Silicon Valley landscape.

To these critics I say: You’re wrong.

Why the Critics Need To Calm Down

The critics on this project are dead wrong, and for four reasons.

1. Utopia fuels genius. By creating a breathtaking architectural wonder, Apple will inspire its employees. You know, the people who are the sole source of everything that Apple imagines and builds. One good example of this phenomenon is Google, which smartly creates corporate campuses that are equal parts playground, Disneyland and City of Tomorrow.

2. Utopia builds the brand. Apple is an aspirational brand. Apple’s amazing spaceship HQ will become part of the iconic nature of the Apple brand, driving sales just by its very existence. When Apple announces new products, the invited press will gape at the wonder of it all, and this will ignite their worshipful gushing over whatever Apple announces. And good press is good business.

3. The new campus honors Steve Jobs. The spaceship campus was Jobs’s last vision for the company, one meant to last. While his direction and input into the iPad will quickly fade away, to be replaced by democratic decision-making and possibly a slouch toward mediocrity, the campus will serve as a reminder of the uncompromising visionary who made Apple what it is today. Who would deny this to Jobs, really — especially investors, whose wallets are burdened by the man’s vision. Besides, if you don’t want to be involved in a visionary company, sell your Apple stock and buy Exxon Mobile.

4. A visionary campus attracts top talent. It’s really hard to recruit and retain top engineering and design talent in Silicon Valley. Apple’s HQ will provide one additional incentive for the best people to stay with Apple.

Apple’s Campus 2 budget has ballooned from $3 billion to $5 billion and, guess what? It will probably grow to as high as $10 billion.

So what?

This is a company with $150 billion in cash, all of it generated by the executives and employees, many of whom will work at this campus. The new campus is good for Apple’s business, good for the environment and good for Silicon Valley.

It’s time for the critics of Apple’s spaceship Campus 2 to pipe down and marvel at Steve Jobs’s last breathtaking visionary gift.

Why The New Spaceship Campus Is The Biggest Apple Product Ever Built

By

Apple's spaceship campus as it will eventually appear.
Apple's spaceship campus as it will eventually appear.

This story first appeared in Cult of Mac Magazine 

Architecture hasn’t really ever been important in the brick and mortar-averse tech industry. It wasn’t all that long ago that digital utopians proclaimed physical geography dead altogether, with a vocal minority apparently pleased to leave the actual world behind them and embrace the cyberspace of William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the technological breakthroughs of Silicon Valley have advanced almost inversely to the region’s architecture. In a brave new world of lush rolling hills and the always impressive San Francisco Bay, the most that the majority of companies have managed to come up with are drab industrial parks filled with two-story, cubicle-lined buildings.

Why Jony Ive Should Travel Back In Time To Stop Scott Forstall From Ruining Ancient Greek Architecture

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What does Apple's Calendar app and this building have in common?
What does Apple's Calendar app and this building have in common?

There’s been a lot of hullyboo about skeuomorphism in the Mac and iOS community right now. Ever since the debut of iOS, Apple’s software has become increasingly ornamented with unnecessary textures and details that many people consider tacky, such as the fake Corinthian leather in Calendar or the green felt background in Game Center. This style of design is called skeuomorphism, and outed ex-Apple VP Scott Forstall was one of Cupertino’s main proponent for its wide spread use in iOS and OS X.

All signs point to Jonny Ive getting away with a lot of skeuomorphic details in iOS 7, adopting instead a more modern, ‘flat’ design.

The way people talk, though, it’s like skeuomorphism is a unique problem of the digital age. It’s not. In fact, the ancient Greeks had a problem with skeuomorphism too. So before you revile Scott Forstall for using it too much, keep in mind, it’s a design technique as old as civilization.

Cupertino Campus Spaceship Proposal Updated With Bike And Pedestrian Paths, Parking

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Apple's spaceship campus as it will eventually appear.
More bike lanes and parking here.

Apple submitted a new proposal, dubbed Submittal 6, for it’s super futuristic circular spaceship campus in Cupertino. The revision includes new details like bike and pedestrian paths, enhancements to street areas, and parking spaces for the huge project, which is behind schedule and $2 billion over budget. The current move-in estimate is in the summer of 2016, a date that continues to show up in the lastest revision.