The Reason behind the Design of Apple's New Circular Campus

Image via The City of Cupertino.
This makes an interesting case study on designing an effective environment for innovation.

Apple is a functional organization. Unlike almost every other large company it’s not organized in “divisions” which have responsibility for “a business” in the sense of profit or loss. At Apple most people or teams are assigned a function like “design”, “engineering”, “sales” etc. When a product is being built, they are assigned to that effort. When the product is complete, they go to another product.
Seen from this perspective, the architecture of their proposed campus makes perfect sense. If it was a divisional structure then each division could live in its own building or campus. In fact, each division would not have much to talk about to any other division. But as a functional organization Apple needs to move people quickly between projects. It needs to re-configure itself frequently. Being in the same building means they can do this much more efficiently.
This is why there needs to be one building and this is why the shape chosen is probably optimal: each point within can be reached with minimal routing. The fact that it’s aesthetically pleasing is a coincidence.

Via: Asymco

  • Vineet Dixit

    April 30, 2013 at 10:26 pm Reply

    Apple takes secrecy of its inner working very seriously. It is known to go to great lengths to protect even the slightest knowledge of its future projects. Projects are executed in silos until they are very close to their public announcement, to the surprise of even Apple employees those are not directly involved with a project. Heavy access control, conference rooms with darkening walls and erasing white boards immediately after a meeting is common. Apple allegedly has secret “police” which trolls the Apple campus that pose as an outsider to Apple employees and try to elicit secrets. Employees are fired if they discuss any aspect of a secret project.
    A donut-shaped building like Apple’s future campus (this is how current campus is also designed) allows Apple to keep its business inward, like a fortress. There are few entries and exits. Its a city that is self sufficient and prefers less communication with outside world unless required.

  • Marc-Oliver

    May 11, 2013 at 11:42 am Reply

    Yeah, it’s like a Panopticon: The concept of the design is to allow a “watchman” to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.

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