Steve Jobs’ last public appearance wasn’t to announce a new iPhone, or a new iPad. It wasn’t in front of a huge throng of media, either.
Jobs’ last pitch was to Cupertino, California’s city council. He was selling it on his plan to build a new headquarters that he said looks like a “spaceship.”
It’s a huge glass doughnut sitting in the middle of a forest of 309 different types of trees, according to illustrations submitted to the city.
Peter Burrows at Bloomberg Businessweek has new details on the construction of the building. It may not have been an Apple product like the iPhone or the iPad, but it still got the same treatment from Jobs’ obsessive eye for detail.
Burrows says the building costs have expanded to ~$5 billion from an initial estimate of ~$3 billion, due largely to “fit and finish” issues with the construction. Burrows singles out a lot of Jobs’ highly specific requests for the building.
Here’s a sample of Jobs’ specifications:
- Burrows says, “Jobs wanted no seam, gap, or paintbrush stroke showing.”
- He wanted everything “polished to a supernatural smoothness.”
- Wood used inside the building is to come from a specific type of maple tree, and it can only be “heartwood,” which is the wood from the centre of the tree.
- The building will have six-square kilometers of bent glass, which will be bent at a factory in Germany, then shipped to California. The company doing the glass had to develop new machines for making it.
- Apple will pre-build bathrooms and cubicle banks then have them driven to the office and installed. This saves time and allows the construction to be more exact.
- Jobs didn’t want concrete floors, he wanted “a stone-infused alternative such as terrazzo, buffed to a sheen normally reserved for museums and high-end residences,” says Burrows.
- Jobs also wanted the seams where walls met to be 1/32 of an inch across, whereas the standard for construction is 1/8 of inch.
- He wanted the ceiling to be polished concrete instead of sound absorbing material. Apple also has a very specific plan for the concrete ceiling. It wants to pour ceiling molds on the ground, then lift it to the ceiling, an approach that is far more expensive.