About blogs, biographies and apricot orchards

I have been thinking about the next version of the website for some time, and it’s time for Phase I to roll out.

I have moved the website to a new host last week. It should now be faster and more reliable. And today, I moved the blog to that same host. It is now really 100% under all about Steve Jobs.com, since all things Steve Jobs doesn’t seem to be catching on, and is just too confusing. Even though I am keeping the URL allthingsstevejobs.com, it will now point to allaboutstevejobs.com/blog. You might have noticed the better cosmetic integration with the rest of the website too.

I don’t think any of you has missed the two big pieces of Steve Jobs news from the past two weeks:

  • the city of Cupertino has published the plans for the upcoming Apple ‘spaceship’ campus. It’s not bigger than the Pentagon — but close. If you’ve had a thorough look at the plans, Steve’s favored apricot orchards are showing up in the north east garden of the campus (see picture below).

Steve Jobs unveils his plans for Apple’s future campus

Finally! It was five years ago that Steve Jobs first came to the Cupertino City Council to unveil Apple’s plan to build a new campus in that city to accomodate their ever-growing workforce… Since then, not much had happened, besides Apple having its people move to HP’s former (and frankly quite ugly) offices.

Well, three days after the WWDC keynote, Steve made a (sort-of) public appearance again to unveil what he had been working on all along: Apple’s impressive future super-campus. The video is quite interesting to watch, mostly to see Steve describe the project, and despite the embarrassingly stupid comments and lame jokes from the City Council members (Can we get free wi-fi? Will the employees exit the building safely in case of fire? Why don’t we have an Apple Store?… pleaaase). Here’s the spaceship in Steve’s own words (please note this one-building design has nothing to do with what Spanish magazine El Economista talked about in December of last year):

For an architecture aficionado like me, there is so much to talk about this design. But I’ll stick to Apple metaphors.

I believe the whole concept of a single, huge, perfectly round building, surrounded by a forest, is an excellent metaphor for Apple as a company and even as a culture. It is the opposite of Google’s more open, decentralized, more ‘democratic’ (dare I say disorganized?) campus: image of a company working on different projects, going into several directions, without an apparent guiding principle. No, the Apple campus is a perfect, almost utopian (dare I say authoritarian?) building. Like an Apple product, it’s simple and straightforward (a circle). Like Apple the company, it’s huge and impressive in its size and organization. But even more than that, it’s pretty much a fortress secluding Apple employees from the outside world by a heavy artificial forest, just like Apple’s cult of secrecy isolates them from the rest of the industry.

The more I looked at the sketches and plans of the Apple spaceship, the more I thought of this:

This is Apple’s org chart (org circle?) that appeared in Fortune’s excellent Inside Apple story two weeks ago. I think it is one of the most telling and accurate depictions of the Apple Way. Coming back to our spaceship campus, I think you see where I am going:

 

That’s right, to make the metaphor complete, Steve’s office should be right in the middle: the centerpiece of this high-tech fortress, the ultimate impulsion and decision point that pushes everything Apple does, before it goes out the fortress to the bewildered world.

It’s an understatement that I can’t wait to go back to the Bay Area in 2015 to take a tour of that building, should I have to enroll in architecture school to do so (see Steve’s speech at 14:40 if you don’t see what I’m referring to).

Apple campus 2.0

Finally! We’re finally hearing some news on Apple’s new campus in Cupertino.

As a reminder, news on a new campus date back to 2006, when Steve himself went to the Cupertino City Council to announce the company’s plan to expand, after its purchase of land next to the HP campus. The video can still be watched on YouTube. As you can see, Steve speaks of a “3 to 4 years” period to get it built.

We’ve been waiting for that new campus ever since. People from the area have reported that Apple people have moved into these former HP buildings, without any architectural modifications. To tell the truth I was afraid that, busy with Apple products, Steve would delay the plans for a decade or so —  until his retirement or something.

That long delay makes more sense now that we’ve learned that just last week, Apple purchased another huge chunk of land from HP, right next to the properties it bought four years ago. The map below is impressive:

If you’ve ever been to the current Apple campus, you’ll realize that this is a HUGE expansion. As if I wasn’t excited enough, a Spanish newspaper has reported rumors that Steve Jobs has designated world-famed architect Norman Foster to build this new ‘City of Apple’. Quote from Philip Elmer-DeWitt’s column:

Jobs is paying extraordinary attention to environmental issues as he designs the future headquarters of his company, the paper has been told. The buildings that will house engineers and the R & D department will “incorporate cutting-edge technology in materials and equipment as well as renewable energy resources,” according to El Economista. All transportation between the buildings will take place through a network of tunnels, keeping surface areas green.

Can you imagine such a place? Steve Jobs moving in underground top-secret tunnels with prototypes of Apple products, underneath a green-clean-futuristic campus? I bet the windows of his iOffice won’t be see-through. This reminds me of old fantasies such as this picture from a 2008 Apple commercial you will most likely recognize: