One of the most exciting visitor attractions in Silicon Valley is set to open by the end of the year. It’s expected to draw thousands of visitors daily, from every state in the Union, and from countries across the globe, large and small.
Visitors will be drawn by the opportunity to view — an office building!
But it’s not just any office building. It’s Apple’s new Apple Park, featuring a 2.8 million square foot ring-shaped main building, an underground parking garage, a 100,000 square foot fitness center, and a 120,000 square foot 1,000-seat auditorium for hosting events, named the Steve Jobs Theater.
Its circular design and extreme scale have earned a media nickname of “the spaceship”.
Steve Jobs wanted the whole campus to look less like an office park and more like a nature refuge. Eighty percent of the site consists of green space planted with drought-resistant trees and plants indigenous to the Cupertino, California area.
Apple is known for its secrecy. Which means apart from the 12,000 Apple employees who will work there, and selected Apple developers, members of the media, and Apple business partners, few members of the general public will ever have access to Apple Park.
Apple realized it needed a way for its many customers and Mac fans to experience Apple Park from close up, but not too close! And it chose to build the Visitor Center across the street from the new campus.
With new studies showing 64 percent of all Americans own an Apple product, interest in viewing Apple Park is expected to be substantial.
The Visitor Center is divided into three parts: the retail store, a cafe and a space for an augmented reality experience.
Next to the retail store is a topographical scale model of Apple Park. It will come to life through an augmented reality iPad app. Employees will hand visitors special iPads with the app, and once they point the iPad camera toward the map, it comes alive with information detailing Apple Park and its many structures.
Stairs and elevators will take visitors to the roof level of the Visitor Center which will serve as the official observation deck to view Apple’s new spaceship like campus. Here visitors can use their iPhone and Pad cameras to take photos and video of Apple Park.
The retail store in the middle looks like any Apple Store around the world, except for some specialized merchandise. Visitors can buy Apple branded tote bags, t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts and postcards. No other Apple store offers these items for sale.
The Visitor Center features an underground parking facility for nearly 700 cars. Apple has not yet announced plans for motorcoach drop-off and pickup points, nor for motorcoach or RV parking.
The Visitor Center cost $108 million to construct, and Apple CEO Tim Cook says it will open before the end of the year.
There will be no charge to visit the Apple Park Visitor Center.