Foster’s Apple Headquarters Exceeds Budget by $2 Billion

© , ARUP, Kier + Wright,

The estimated cost of Apple’s Cupertino City headquarters has escalated from an already hefty price of $3 billion to $5 billion (more than $1,500 per square foot), reportedly pushing back the original completion date to 2016. According to Bloomberg, Apple is working with lead architect Foster & Partners to shave $1 billion from the “ballooning budget”. Most of the cost is seemly due to Steve Job’s “sky-high requirements for fit and finish”, as the tech legend called for the 2.8 million square foot, circular monolith to be clad 40-foot panes of German concave glass, along with its four-story office spaces be lined with museum-quality terrazzo floors and capped with polished concrete ceilings.

Although lambasted for his ambitious plans and “doughnut-shaped” design, Steve Jobs wanted to create a masterpiece that looked as good as it functioned, just like his products. During a 2011 presentation to the Cupertino City Council, Jobs stated, “This is not the cheapest way to build something… there is not a straight piece of glass in this building.” He continued, “We have a shot… at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see it.”

More after the break…

© Foster + Partners, ARUP, Kier + Wright, Apple

The spaceship-like headquarters, as Jobs would describe, is intended to accommodate more than 12,000 employees. It will be one of six visible structures planned for the 176 acre parcel - including the headquarters, a lobby to a 1000-seat underground auditorium, a four-story parking garage near Interstate 280, a corporate fitness center, a research facility and central plant - all of which will be accessed by a network of underground roads and parking lots, hidden by 6,000 trees.

In addition, Jobs envisioned the campus to achieve “net-zero energy” by offsetting energy use with 700,000 square feet of rooftop solar panels (enough to generate 8 megawatts of power), along with additional contracts for solar and wind power, climate responsive window dressings, and more (additional project information, including plans and images, can be found here).

© Foster + Partners, ARUP, Kier + Wright, Apple

Despite the cost, Bloomberg states, “There’s no indication that Apple is getting cold feet.” Site excavation is planned to commence in June. 

In related news, Facebook’s quarter-mile-long West Campus by Frank Gehry was just awarded approval from city council. All the details here

Reference: Bloomberg 

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Foster’s Apple Headquarters Exceeds Budget by $2 Billion" 05 Apr 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • Chris

    I’m sure the technical bits and craft will be great, but nothing about the organization or form is worthy of attention, talk about a long walk from one side to the other..

    • Peter Scorer

      Who knows…there might be walkalators inside.

  • Chris Keesling

    That is sooo Apple. If something breaks in the building, do they have to rebuild the entire thing?

    • Ivan

      …also not the best but probably the more expensive.

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  • Dave

    How can an initial cost estimate be underestimated by as much as 40% if the form of the building barely changed? What did the designers or Client do to nearly double the construction cost? This story is just sensationalist nonsense. More detail regarding the nature of the cost overuns should be provided.


    HOPEFULLY NOT A PROBLEM THE BUDGET, I think the work deserves trillion ANY OTHER …

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  • Ralph Kent

    Similar in size to the Pentagon. Coincidence? Another 5 second sketch by Norm. Content looks somewhat different on google earth tothe CGIs, mine.

  • Sam

    There is a saying amongst architects in Germany:

    “When the architect doesn’t know what to do, he draws a circle.”

  • Brian Ferry

    I feel that Apple likes to give a false sense of environmentalism. They are aiming for a net-zero building, yet it appears to be in the middle of nowhere making it difficult for employees to walk to cycle to work.
    As for the design, it looks to be a very nice, elegant structure but other than the novelty of the curved glass is there anything exciting about it? Am I missing something here? I love the work of Norman Foster but I feel that this is less impressive than most of his previous work.

  • Nancy Liu

    Forster’s $ Partners has usually emphasize of each of their designed building. What is this one has except round shape in black color? It seems no particular eye catch if people stand on the ground level and looking up this building from out side, there is nothing really eye catching.

    Big company like Apple should demand more on design which this company is a symbol on West Coast of U.S. a poor area in Architectural culture.

  • Rod Gurzynski

    This is an example of how architecture have become a slave of money and power. Where to from here? It looks like the end of the road.