Reuters: ‘Channeling Steve Jobs, Apple Seeks Design Perfection at New “Spaceship” Campus’

Julia Love, writing for Reuters on Apple’s new campus, now nearing completion:

Signage required a delicate balancing act: Apple wanted all signs to reflect its sleek, minimalist aesthetic, but the fire department needed to ensure the building could be swiftly navigated in an emergency.

Dirk Mattern, a retired deputy fire chief who is representing the Santa Clara County Fire Department on the project, estimated he attended 15 meetings that touched on the topic.

“I’ve never spent so much time on signage,” he said.

The stuff about navigation and collaboration, I don’t get:

For all the time and money sunk into the project, some in the architecture community question whether Apple has focused on the right ends. The campus is something of an exception to the trend of radically open offices aimed at fostering collaboration, said Louise Mozingo, a professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C. Berkeley.

I don’t know anyone who works at Apple who’d want to work at a desk in a room with a “radically open” floorplan. And I know several who would likely quit if forced to. People at Apple have work to do, work requires concentration, and concentration is easier to achieve when you have your own office.

Its central office building — a massive ring of glass frequently likened to a spaceship — could be a challenge just to navigate, she noted.

“It’s not about maximizing the productivity of the office space, it’s about creating a symbolic center for this global company,” she said. “They are creating an icon.”

Critics from the “architecture community” — starting all the way back in 2011, when the new campus was just a plan — seem to have no understanding of how Apple actually functions. Remember too, that Steve Jobs spearheaded the design of Pixar’s unique headquarters, about which I’ve heard nothing but praise from Pixar employees. (Pixar’s headquarters is different from Apple’s in many ways, but Pixar and Apple are, well, different in many ways.)

I think there’s a good chance that Apple knows what it’s doing here.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017