Steven Levy of Wired magazine was invited in for a tour of the vast new Apple headquarters building in Cupertino, California, designed by Foster and Partners. Opened in April 2017 the building has cost a reported $5 billion, and the circular shape is apparently visible from space.
Guided around by Apple’s design chief, Sir Jony Ive, Levy reported the obsessive attention to detail including custom-made door handles, ‘distressed’ stone cladding, and specially designed glass canopies to avoid the green tint that would have offended the design conscious occupants. The 4000 seater staff canteen has four storey high glass doors to the landscaped courtyard, and provides specially designed ventilated containers so staff don’t have to eat soggy pizzas at their desks.
This obscenely expensive building is a monument to the power and fabulous wealth of the huge technology companies from California that now dominate our lives. It reminds me (and others) of the behaviour of the ‘robber barons’ of the railway and oil age in the USA who built extravagant palaces for themselves on the backs of the labour that created their wealth. The poorly paid employees of Foxconn, Pegatron and others who make the expensive products that have created Apple’s and other tech companies’ vast profits work under oppressive conditions in windowless factories, and sleep in dormitories surrounded by anti-suicide netting. The ‘progressive’ features of the space age Apple HQ, with its sustainability, high-tech design, and 10,000 sq metre health and wellness centre, are just window-dressing for a company with nineteenth century ethics.
See my post on the 1950s Olivetti factory near Naples for a truly progressive employer’s enlightened attitude to all of its workers, not just the lucky elite at the top who will occupy Apple’s lavish new building.
Apple HQ photo – Wikimedia Commons by Dicklyon
Foxconn factory, China photo – Shanghai Evening Post undercover reporter Wang Yu