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Old Feb 28, 2013, 10:27 AM   #1
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What Apple's and Google's Headquarters Plans Reveal About Their Cultures




The very different designs for Apple's and Google's planned headquarters buildings are a reflection of their corporate personalities, argues a professor of architecture at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

In an interview with Professor Brian Schermer by digital news site Quartz (via Business Insider), the workplace design expert comments on the two companies' respective plans for their new headquarter buildings.

Quote:
Apple is ... inscrutable. We don't see the interiors. I have no idea how Apple would organize the building into different work groups. [It] is very tightly controlled. Maybe the Apple employee is somebody who's attracted to that pure, shared vision -- the Jony Ive aesthetic. [It is] an architecture that [one] is meant to behold. The company is shooting for timeless beauty.
Quote:
Google's business is somewhat sprawling and disheveled. They started off with search, and now they are getting into hardware, like Pixel and Google Glass. Similarly, their next campus is a thicket of ideas and places to be. The Google vision is perhaps to recruit people who are attracted to the serendipity of messiness. Architecture can be a very abstract language, but Google is wearing its heart on its sleeve. It's trying to say that you can really inhabit this space.
Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned Apple's new campus at yesterday's shareholders meeting, reiterating that Apple plans to move into the facility in 2016, with construction potentially beginning later this year.

Article Link: What Apple's and Google's Headquarters Plans Reveal About Their Cultures
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 10:34 AM   #2
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Well, you can analyze everything I guess..
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 10:38 AM   #3
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The OCD professional adult in me likes Apple's campus more because it's organized and clean. The crazy rambunctious kid in me, however likes Google's campus more.

Honestly, depending on my mood i'd like to work at both campuses.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 10:38 AM   #4
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This says a lot

Apple - Connected ecosystem
Google - Fragmented (even their ideas are this and that)

Both look stunning in their own ways, I think.

Last edited by Eugene-DL; Feb 28, 2013 at 03:50 PM.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 10:47 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Eugene-DL View Post
Apple - Connected ecosystem
Google - Fragmented (even their ideas are this and that)
I agree. Apple's is like a Closed system, but looks awesome and is more functional. Google's is more open, but yes, fragmented.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 10:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by shartypants View Post
I agree. Apple's is like a Closed system, but looks awesome and is more functional. Google's is more open, but yes, fragmented.
Apple seems to be a very top-down, driven company. The people at the top have a very precise idea of exactly what they want -- Steve Jobs was the penultimate example -- and the rest of the company strives to make it happen.

Google strikes me as the opposite. They have some general goals, but employees are encouraged to experiment. "Hey, I have an idea that could be great!" And they're willing to try lots of things, hoping to stumble upon something great.

Both approaches have different strengths and weaknesses. The Google approach means they try lots of things that don't really work, possibly wasting time and money, but the employees at least feel like their time and input are valued.

With the Apple approach, if they get it right, it works beautifully and it really helps their image as this magical company that churns out hit after hit and can do no wrong (because we don't get to see the ones that didn't make it out of their labs), but then you get all these comments about how they're "not innovating" because we don't see, and don't know, what's going on in there. Also, if/when Ives & Cook guess something wrong, once the market isn't quick to embrace their latest and greatest, that could be the beginning of a slippery slope.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 11:00 AM   #7
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I think Apples building design reflects more on their address rather than culture. Their campus is on Infinite Loop (St. Rd.?) A circle is a representation of an infinite loop.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 01:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notjustjay View Post
Apple seems to be a very top-down, driven company. The people at the top have a very precise idea of exactly what they want -- Steve Jobs was the penultimate example -- and the rest of the company strives to make it happen.

Google strikes me as the opposite. They have some general goals, but employees are encouraged to experiment. "Hey, I have an idea that could be great!" And they're willing to try lots of things, hoping to stumble upon something great.

Both approaches have different strengths and weaknesses. The Google approach means they try lots of things that don't really work, possibly wasting time and money, but the employees at least feel like their time and input are valued.

With the Apple approach, if they get it right, it works beautifully and it really helps their image as this magical company that churns out hit after hit and can do no wrong (because we don't get to see the ones that didn't make it out of their labs), but then you get all these comments about how they're "not innovating" because we don't see, and don't know, what's going on in there. Also, if/when Ives & Cook guess something wrong, once the market isn't quick to embrace their latest and greatest, that could be the beginning of a slippery slope.
From Tim Cook's Bloomberg/Businessweek interview last December:

How do you interact with design? You donít have meetings. You donít have a formal process. Do you just wander down, and you and Jony look at stuff?

I wouldnít say we donít have meetings. I wouldnít go that far. Iím talking about how the kernels of ideas are born. We want ideas coming from all of our 80,000 people, not five or three. A much smaller number of people have to decide and edit and move forward, but you want ideas coming from everywhere. You want people to explore. So thatís what I was talking about before.
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Old Mar 8, 2013, 02:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by notjustjay View Post
Steve Jobs was the penultimate example
So who's the ultimate example?

Sorry, couldn't resist. :P

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubba Satori View Post
Yes, monolithic Stalinist style.
Probably what KGB headquarters would look like if built today.
I dunno. I like to think the ole Soviets would stick to Brutalist style no matter what the year.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 10:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shartypants View Post
I agree. Apple's is like a Closed system, but looks awesome and is more functional. Google's is more open, but yes, fragmented.
Definitely! Google's Headquarters look like a high-end commercial centre IMHO.

Last edited by Eugene-DL; Feb 28, 2013 at 03:54 PM.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 11:02 AM   #11
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It would have been funny if the new Google headquarters was a single long, phallic shaped building, then we could have seen much better how the two companies interrelate
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 12:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene-DL View Post
Apple - Connected ecosystem
Google - Fragmented (even their ideas are this and that)
I was thinking the word "fragmented" also.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 12:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene-DL View Post
Apple - Connected ecosystem
Google - Fragmented (even their ideas are this and that)
Exactly
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 03:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene-DL View Post
Apple - Connected ecosystem
Google - Fragmented (even their ideas are this and that)
obviously people can look into things WAY too much....however I saw it as this:

Apple - Cold, closed and controlling
Google - Organised (each department group in their own buildings), messy, open.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 04:00 PM   #15
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I hate to say this but Google's HQ looks like a housing project.
Hardly. Not a single building without a curve in it's layout. Horrible use of space for a housing project considering those are typically made with the intent fitting as many units in as you can.
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Originally Posted by globalhemp View Post
Apple's new headquarters resembles the name of the street address of its current headquarters -- One Infinite Loop.

On the other hand, the circular design is reminiscent of the United Kingdom's GCHQ -- which is the "listening headquarters" of the UK. In other words, the building where "Big Brother is watching you." The UK's equivalent of the US's NSA.


There is a negative connotation with this in today's world when you think of CISPA and SOPA which can best be portrayed in the 1998 movie "Enemy of the State" where actor Gene Hackman refers to the NSA's supercomputers use in "Project Echelon."

I'm not saying Apple is "Big Brother" ... what I am saying is that its rather difficult for me to view the building and not think about the original circular shaped building located in the UK.
Admittedly I had not seen that building before, but Apple's reminds me more of the old forest or launch arcologies from Sim City 2000
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Old Mar 5, 2013, 08:10 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene-DL View Post
Apple - Connected ecosystem
Google - Fragmented (even their ideas are this and that)

Both look stunning in their own ways, I think.
Or...

The Apple campus looks and functions like a hamster wheel (a nice looking one that is). It's moving and doing things, but really, not moving forward.

The Google campus looks like they're not about not being boring and trying new things. There's more shapes besides a triangle, square or this case a circle.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 12:14 PM   #17
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Well, you can analyze everything I guess..
Architecture has been an important part of human culture for millennia. So yes, you can analyze it.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 12:38 PM   #18
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apple's campus is a mix between george clintons funkiest dream and "we're too good for this planet, beam us up".

i'm sure the roof panels can be arranged in patterns as a means to communicate with the fleet.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 12:49 PM   #19
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I hate to say this but Google's HQ looks like a housing project.
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Old Mar 1, 2013, 06:20 AM   #20
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I hate to say this but Google's HQ looks like a housing project.
I was thinking more of a Holiday Restort.
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Old Mar 1, 2013, 09:30 AM   #21
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Location: Canada, eh?
It may also help to keep in perspective that a nice looking workplace could be, but is not necessarily, an indicator of what it's like to work there.

I remember interviewing for a software engineering position, and being really impressed by the lab space I was being shown. The entrance to the lab was in a giant all-glass wall, with the company logo tastefully acid-etched into the panels. Inside, the lab was clean, brightly lit, wires were run cleanly, employees were smiling and watching "The Lord of the Rings" on a laptop while they were working.

I remember thinking "Wow, this is so nice, I could definitely work here".

Well, that company was Nortel. I think everyone knows how that one turned out.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 02:24 PM   #22
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The design of each campus reflects the taste and esthetic vision of the leaders of each company.

And it does seem to closely correspond to the design sense of the founders of each company.

But Jobs is no longer alive (although Ive seems to be carrying the torch now) and Google did hire some rather talented designers for Android, such as Matias Duarte.

Duarte doesn't quite have the clean design sensibilities of Ive, but Android is at least moving in the right direction esthetically (which MS never did).
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 03:17 PM   #23
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Apple's new campus will have a daycare. There are no corners for the misbehaving urchins of Execs to kneel in with this design
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 04:01 PM   #24
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I would lay money on Apple's campus never getting started, or at the very least, never getting finished. It is an all-or-nothing monument to hubris.

In Google's case they can afford to build some or all of it and adapt to changing conditions as they go.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 05:05 PM   #25
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To me, Google's headquarters are shaped more like arrows pointing inwards and around, compared to Apple's singular Loop.

When you compare this, obviously aesthetically it gives and impression, but what about for the people actually /working/ there? How do people move about in those spaces?

I'm an apple lover at heart, but I'm not going to lie about wanting to work in an office-type environment similar to that of Google's. Utilising different zones and 'break-out' spaces, categorising and theming different floors and offices with unique features to inspire the individuals inside is fundamental to keeping creative people on-the-go. There is Architecture in that, it's new, it's forward thinking and it's really radical.
Apple's however, its secretive and, though I know some of the mentioned above elements may be true (just no-one has seen much of the inside spaces, there never really has been a need to.) How do people move from one side to the other? What "clusters" fit together? Is there a hierarchy here? The team working on the design here were definitely focusing on making a piece which is timeless and iconic -- much like all of Apple's products and ecosystem in fact.


Stripping the companies from the buildings, though, if you do a little more research into the way these spaces have been made (regardless of what actual products they're trying to achieve are) the work environments inspire totally different things from their users and are inspiring and displaying very different approaches to work. This is what's fascinating to me.
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