Why Apple Park is Steve Jobs’ final project

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Apple’s epic
Apple Park campus
is more or less complete, and it’s
celebrated in a great new Wired cover story, written
by one of the best Apple journalists out there.

In the article,
Steven Levy — who has had the inside scoop on Apple since the
1980s, and written two great books (The
Perfect Thing
and Insanely Great) on the
company — makes a great argument that Apple Park is
nothing less than the final product of Steve Jobs himself.

Here’s why:

As
is well known, Steve’s plea to the Cupertino City Council
to build Apple Park was his last public appearance. However,
despite passing away years before anyone broke ground on the
new headquarters, Jobs was heavily involved with its design —
which goes back as far as 2009.


This
involved coming up with a design that reflected an idealized
California of Jobs’ youth, a layout that would make
serendipitous meetings possible
, and even personally
finding the right tree expert for the garden. At one point,
Jobs apparently insisted that the design the architects were
working on was scrapped after Jobs’ son pointed out that it
looked like male anatomy when viewed from the sky.


One
interesting observation is that the 100,000-square-foot
fitness and wellness center includes distressed stone “to
make it look like the stone at Jobs’ favorite hotel in
Yosemite.”

At one point in the article, one of the designers notes that
Steve:

“knew exactly what timber he wanted, but not just ‘I like
oak’ or ‘I like maple.’ He knew it had to be quarter-­cut. It
had to be cut in the winter, ideally in January, to have the
least amount of sap and sugar content. We were all sitting
there, architects with gray hair, going, ‘Holy
shit!’”

Jobs also came up with the idea of having sprinkler heads in
the stairwells, for producing a dense mist in the event of a
fire. He was apparently “inspired by the way fire stairs
work on yachts,” which he spent a
considerable amount of time researching
toward the end of
his life.

Ultimately, Levy makes the case that:

“It’s probably more accurate to say that Apple Park is the
architectural avatar of the man who envisioned it, the same
man who pushed employees to produce those signature products.
In the absence of his rigor and clarity, he left behind a
headquarters that embodies both his autobiography and his
values. The phrase that keeps coming up in talks with key
Apple figures is “Steve’s gift.” Behind that concept is the
idea that in the last months of his life, Jobs expended
significant energy to create a workplace that would benefit
Apple’s workers for perhaps the next century. “This was a
hundred-year decision,” Cook says. “And Steve spent the last
couple of years of his life pouring himself in here at times
when he clearly felt very poorly.”

Interestingly, Apple shied away from calling the campus the
Steve Jobs campus, with
Cook previously telling an interviewer
 that “Steve
made his views on that very clear.” Jobs’ name will instead be
commemorated in the naming of the theater for future product
unveilings.

You can (and should) check out the rest of Steve Levy’s
brilliant article
here
.