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

File under:
Industrial Design

Written by Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)
Apr 30, 2013


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

Love this post? Subscribe to The Design Sojourn Newsletter, for free, and get the latest content delivered right to your inbox with our 110% NO-SPAM Policy!

You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Related Posts You Might Find Interesting:


Vineet Dixit
Apr 30, 13 – 10:26 pm

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.

May 11, 13 – 11:42 am

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.

A note about commenting: We value your comments as they provide different perspectives that we can learn from and/or improve our products as we see this blog as a platform for interaction and exchange with our friends. However, whilst we welcome constructive criticism, we do not tolerate offensive and disrespectful comments. Postings deemed inappropriate will be removed.

Finally, to avoid auto deletion from spam filtering, we kindly ask that you use your personal name or initials instead of your business name. Thank you and I hope you enjoy being part of the design conversation!