Just what is it about Apple Park that inspires such devoted watching from drone operators and YouTube viewers alike?
Is it the pleasing completeness of the building’s full-circle design? The allure of Apple’s powerful marketing machine? Or is it the idea of briefly overcoming the company’s famously guarded nature for an aerial peak of work in progress?
South Bay drone owner Matthew Roberts spent the last year dutifully uploading regular surveys from the skies of the building’s construction—just one of dozens of Bay Area residents to buzz the campus from above—attracting millions of views.
For those who simply don’t have time now to review all that footage, consider the six-minute, one-year time lapse video Roberts cut together. It shows the transition of the $5 billion building from a half-finished ring, sans completed roof still exposed to the elements and flanked by towering red cranes, to the sleek figure it is today, encased in glass and glittering solar panels.
Apple Park reportedly opened to some employees in April, though it’s a little hard to tell how active the campus is right now in terms of day to day Apple affairs. (No one at the company was immediately available for comment.)
As construction inches closer to an end, outlets like the Economist have taken to giving the side eye to just how much of the finished campus services the 11,000 or so parking spaces, writing in April:
Tot up all the parking spaces and the lanes and ramps that will allow cars to reach them, and it is clear that Apple is allocating a vast area to stationary vehicles. In all, the new headquarters will contain 318,000 square meters of offices and laboratories. The car parks will occupy 325,000 square meters.
Of course, as the Economist acknowledges, the city of Cupertino requires that many parking spaces in a building this size.
On the other hand, Allison Arieff, author of a SPUR study on mass transit and corporate headquarters, argues that Apple extracted enough concessions from the city that it could have fought harder on the parking issue. And Jarrett Walker, a transit consultant who worked on Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s new service network, told Curbed SF that the layout of the campus neglects nearby transit lines.
After years of only watching it come together, observers will now get a vivid picture of what Apple Park will be like as an active, living building. The final test for the highly visible Norman Foster design will be how well it works in the end.