COME CLOSE, BUT NOT TOO CLOSE
Apple’s new $108 million Visitor Center attempts to dazzle the public while trying to balance the company’s strong penchant for secrecy
CUPERTINO » In more ways than one, Apple’s Visitor Center looks a lot like the Steve Jobs Theater, which was unveiled for the first time this week.
Like the theater, the Visitor Center is surrounded with tall glass walls and a roof with rounded edges. But unlike any part of Apple’s new campus, the Visitor Center is actually built for the public, to wow and entertain while keeping them at arm’s length.
Despite its obsession with secrecy, Apple’s new “spaceship” campus is an architectural monument that is sparking interest among its worldwide fans and is expected to be a tourist draw. As the world’s most valuable public company juggles its desire for privacy with the demands of the public, its new Visitor Center appears to be the compromise.
The Visitor Center did not come cheap, however. The building cost $108 million to construct and is equipped with a retail store, a cafe and a rooftop deck providing a good look at the campus across the street.
While the Visitor Center was open to the gaggle of media and Apple employees on Tuesday for the big iPhone
reveal, it will not officially open until later this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said during his opening remarks at the event.
The Visitor Center is divided into three parts: the retail store, the cafe and a space for an augmented reality experience.
The retail store in the middle looks like any Apple Store around the world with some specialized merchandise. Visitors can buy tote bags, t-shirts and postcards.
Next to the retail store lies a topographical scale model of Apple Park, which comes to life through an in- house augmented reality iPad app. Employees hand visitors special iPads with the app, and once they point the iPad camera toward the map, the map comes alive with information detailing Apple Park and its structures.
The app allows visitors to customize their viewing experience, adjusting what Apple Park looks like in different hours of the day and seeing the energy expenditure and airflow coming in and out of each Apple Park structure.
“Inside the Visitor Center, you’ll find an incredible augmented reality experience where you can learn more about Apple Park, its design and its innovations,” said Cook.
An exterior view of the Visitor Center during an announcement of Apple’s new products Tuesday in Cupertino.
At the Apple event Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook announced the Visitor Center will not officially open until later this year.
The Visitor Center includes a store, cafe and a space for an augmented reality experience.