The technology guru bequeaths us one of his latest ideas, a new technology park in California with a very special theater that bears his name … And it has a prize
On September 12, 2017, a very special inauguration took place, that of a small part of the new Apple brand complex. Specifically, it is the Steve Jobs Theater, a unique first-level building that the brand took advantage of to announce the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple TV 4K (almost nothing). Now, a year later, (the building) has received its first award, focusing on something that few buildings have: Structural Art.
Structural Art is a term that first appears in a book called «The Tower and the Bridge» by Prince P. University Professor of Civil Engineering, David P. Billington, who died in March of this year (2018). In the book, the author talks about the use of structures in ways appropriate to his function, giving him a striking aesthetic vision, while saving materials, but… What characteristics make the Jobs building award deserve? (we will see…)
The Steve Jobs Theater (as a native would say) was born as part of the megaproject of the new Apple facilities in Cupertino, California. Facilities where efficiency, design and innovation prevail, which the company and Jobs himself, before he died, want them to be an inseparable part of the Apple name. The theater is a building designed by Foster + Partners, in Apple Park (the complex) with a very special feature: its visible part does not have the traditional concrete or steel structure, what supports the building is glass.
If you see Apple Park from the air, it may go unnoticed, the circular mega-colossus is a building that attracts a lot of attention, obviously, but if you focus on the surroundings you will find a small hill to the south, which can be reached from several winding paths and in it another circle, this time silver, in contrast to the surrounding green, but which is synonymous with extreme elegance, is the Steve Jobs Theater or Auditorium, so that we understand each other better, a building created to boast (I see it that way I) of the efficiency of glass, perhaps, the best invention of humanity.
The property’s roof is made of carbon fiber, setting itself a record as the world’s largest roof of this material, covering an area of 1,700 square meters. This revolutionary ceiling in itself is not the star of the construction, the star is the exterior envelope formed only by structural glass panels, 6.6 meters high, which allow 360-degree vision and the removal of pillars and load-bearing walls, since they alone support the 80 tons that the deck weighs.
A joy to be in the center of this enclosure, from which you can contemplate all the outer space without moving, well, just by moving your head… On top of it, 44 radial panels of the same dimensions hide the installations that give life and protect the interior , lights, sprinklers, music equipment, etc. But… How did they get there? Well, for the only place they can: between the silicone gaskets that divide the curved glass panels… Fantastic!
But this is not all, in the basement there is an auditorium with capacity for 1,000 people, where the brand presents ideas, gathers its staff on special occasions, etc. Between the auditorium and the exterior is the transition, always in fashion, resolved by a limestone staircase that extends to the interior walls and a stainless steel drum that hides the elevator, the first elevator in the world to use 171 degree helical guides (another novelty).
Anyway, let’s collect: a buried auditorium (with Italian leather seats and oak flooring), accessed through a limestone enclosure, where a staircase of the same material (with carved and two-level handrails) disembarks and the first elevator with a helical guide, to avoid having to place two doors on the device (very practical) as the entrance and exit have different orientations, hidden behind a stainless steel drum that, in turn, lead to the largest covered circular enclosure made of carbon fiber and supported (only) by curved walls of four-layer glass 12 millimeters thick. Anyway, as if not to give it a prize…
All in all, the jury that ruled the award, created by the Institute of Structural Engineers, the entity that awards it, adds these reasons for awarding the award, the same as I (will they have been copied?), also applauding the multiple actions that have been taken on the premises to avoid damage during an earthquake. Let’s remember that the area is seismically very active, which seems extremely good to me. The award for Structural Art goes to projects that have chosen suitable and valuable solutions. Solutions such as concealment of the pipes between the silicone joints or the placement of the carbon fiber cover, carried out by assembling the panels before placing them on top of the glass walls.
As we must be very grateful to, the architecture team formed by Foster + Partners, we will have to add the collaboration in this magnificent project of the structural designer Eckersley O’Callaghan, to the main contract, called Truebeck Construction, the manufacturer of the carbon fiber panels, the Dubai-based company Premier Composite Technologies, the manufacturer Gurit Fabricator and installers Frener & Reifer, in addition to many other companies (bravo for the world of construction).