Insiders call it the Mothership. It’s Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, California, and to Apple fans, it’s a place thought of with romance and wonder. Only the privileged elect have ever been deep within its most secretive recesses, but after an extensive search, I turned up
30 70 156 inside pictures that Apple probably doesn’t want you to see.
MASSIVE UPDATE & REORGANIZATION 11.19.12 including 86 new photos!
Jump to a specific section:
Atriums | Hallways | Offices & Cubicles | Meeting Rooms | Room/Door Signs | Break Room | Common Areas | Caffé Macs | Company Store | Executive Briefing Center | Town Hall | Labs | Recreation | Bandley Fitness Center | Parking Garage
It’s the Chocolate Factory for tech nerds. The one super-secret place we all want to see — and the one place precious few of us ever will.
Search the web for “Apple HQ” or “Apple Headquarters” and most of the results you get will be pictures of Apple’s Cupertino headquarters — from the outside. Usually with some fanboy or fangirl standing next to the “1 Infinite Loop” sign. But what we really want to see is what’s inside the ultra-top-secret place where all our favorite gizmos are dreamed up.
This discussion will be moot a few years down the road when Apple opens its gigantic new wheel-shaped campus. But for now, this is the ultimate Nerdvana, and here Apple Gazette presents a comprehensive collection the only known photos you’re likely to ever see of it.
- 11.19.12 – 86 new photos added, entire page overhauled and reorganized
- 4.21.12 – 36 new photos added, including images from the Executive Briefing Center, employee work spaces, and much more.
- 4.21.12 – Numerous descriptions clarified with added details, including building numbers.
- 4.9.12 – Four new photos added, thanks to an Apple Gazette reader!
- 4.9.12 – Two “Hallway” photos relocated to “Town Hall” section, as they were taken in lobby of Town Hall area.
- 4.9.12 – One “Meeting Room” photo moved to the “Design Lab” section, per a reader suggestion.
- 4.9.12 – Added name “Caffé Macs” to campus cafeteria description.
The primary executive building is located at 1 Infinite Loop. Employees call this building “IL1″ for short. When you first walk inside, you’re greeted by this welcome/reception desk, situated inside the massive, open air atrium with its bright natural light and suspended walkways.
Huge walkways stretch across the atrium, connecting one side of the building with another.
The atrium is a huge central hub, similar to the one at Pixar’s headquarters, where employees frequently run into each other coming and going.
The atrium also plays home to a gigantic banner that’s changed frequently to tout Apple’s latest and greatest product.
Past MacWorld attendees may remember a few years ago when Apple created a big wall that dynamically showed off the icons for iOS apps as they were being purchased, in real time. The next year, Apple took this concept to the next level with a very long table that was filled with iPads. Both of these giant displays were carted back to Apple Headquarters in Cupertino after MacWorld ended, so that company staff could check them out.
Here’s another atrium or lobby, this one located at the front entrance to IL4.
Here’s the atrium/large interior space at another building that’s part of the Apple Campus. I can’t tell which one (maybe one of our readers can identify it?), but the architecture is different than the executive building. The original captions with these photos explain that Apple frequently brings in musicians to play mini concerts for employees during their lunch break.
Somewhere on campus is this little area that looks like a miniature museum. Or, at least it was. The following two pictures were both taken in 1999. Can anyone verify that these items are still around, or long gone? I include these pics here, because the window reflections make them look as though they’re found at an entrance.
Here’s one more reception desk somewhere on campus. No idea what building or department. Or it may be a presentation podium; that looks like a projection screen on the right edge of the pic.
Special thanks to reader Rehan Mehta, who sent us these four further pictures from an inside hallway/entrance on the Apple campus. (These images are copyrighted to Rehan Mehta, and used by permission.) According to Rehan, “If I remember correctly, this was a hallway (from the 4 or 5 Infinite Loop entrance) that led straight to the courtyard in the middle.” You can see some nifty black & white pictures of Steve Jobs on these walls, along with a quote from him printed on a large canvas.
[Image source: Rehan Mehta]
[Image source: Rehan Mehta]
[Image source: Rehan Mehta]
[Image source: Rehan Mehta]
That stuff’s all well and good, but what about where the actual work gets done? If you’re hoping to get a glimpse inside Tim Cook’s office, you can dream on. It’s probably one of the most off-limits areas on the entire campus. But several employees have snapped photos of their offices and cubicles. First, offices:
And here’s a look at cubicles from various departments.
Each department at a mega-company the size of Apple needs a good Meeting Room in which to gather. As you’d expect, Apple Headquarters has a number of very cool, tech-heavy meeting rooms.
Like the Atrium in IL1, there are many open areas sprinkled across the Apple campus, conducive to informal chats or brainstorming sessions between employees.
I can’t tell where the following photo was taken. Again, perhaps one of our readers can identify it. This is a picture that originated in Forbes magazine. Clearly it shows some sort of informal gathering place on campus, but I have no idea if it’s part of the cafeteria or another break room. You may recognize a few of the famous faces in this one.
All over Apple’s Cupertino campus, a sense of humor is evident among the signs adorning walls and doors. I love these!
If you need to make a pit stop, you could see restroom signs that look like these.
Here’s a better look at the restroom area where those signs originate.
Inside the restrooms, you might see this cheeky reminder to wash your hands.
Don’t know where this recycle bin is situated, but I would imagine there are identical ones all over the campus.
Apple is a demanding environment to work in, where everyone is expected to bring their A-game. So it’s nice to see that employees have some cool places like this to go to take a break. There are refreshments available, and informal events like the anniversary plaque presentation seen below are held here. Perhaps as a precursor to the forthcoming round-shaped “spaceship” headquarters, this Break Room is also round.
Hungry? Head over to the huge campus cafeteria, “Caffé Macs.” The food’s not free — not even for employees — but it’s inexpensive, healthy, and offers a huge selection, including lots of daily specials. Those who’ve eaten there rave over the delicious, high-quality food.
To give you an idea of the cuisine offered at Caffé Macs, here are some images captured showing signs that label and describe the specials offered. (Note that even these internal-use-only printer pages are made using Apple’s publication style guides, including the company’s signature font.)
The one and only place inside Apple Headquarters that’s open to the public is the Company Store. It’s the only place where you won’t get accosted by security for taking pictures, and the only place in the world where you can buy Apple logo merchandise, like shirts and hats (though they also sell iPods and other Apple products).
This campus phone — for use on-site only — looks as if it’s located right outside the Apple Company Store. Probably comes in handy when your close personal friend who’s an Apple executive invites you on a personal tour but security won’t let you inside.
Part of the 5 Infinite Loop building is dedicated to the Executive Briefing Center, which Apple uses to hold meetings with its business partners. Apple has also used it for other purposes, such as education conferences and the like. This is one area of the campus where non-employees are allowed — but it’s by invitation only. Note that most of these photos of the EBC are from about five years ago, so they may not reflect its current configuration.
When Apple calls one of its trademark “keynote” press conferences, it usually takes place at a public facility in San Francisco. But occasionally, for a more intimate setting, Apple brings the press to it’s own theater, which it calls the Apple Town Hall. Located at 4 Infinite Loop, a number of events have been held here over the years, including the infamous “Antennagate” event.
This podium is probably located the Town Hall, but I don’t know that for sure. But since there’s nowhere else to put it, I’m sticking it in here.
The holy grail of Apple headquarters is the place where the real magic happens: the labs. These super-secret departments are responsible for the creative design and building of Apple’s sleek, sexy products. The labs include the Computer Labs, the Wireless Testing Lab, and Jony Ive’s Industrial Design Group Lab, among others.
An Apple employee posted the next two photos on Flickr, describing the area only as “the lab.” Obviously it’s some kind of computer lab, but it’s anybody’s guess as to exactly what happens there, or where on campus it’s located. It’s not a flashy place, but I’d bet it’s important.
For the first time ever, Apple opened up some of its most private doors for the press to see after the “Antennagate” outcry following the release of the iPhone 4. Namely, they showed off the state-of-the-art Wireless Testing Lab where Apple puts its latest iPhone models through their paces, testing things like signal strength and user interference.
There’s one place inside Apple HQ that most tech heads and Apple fanboys would crawl buck naked over broken glass to get inside of. Deep within the bowels of hardware manufacturing building IL6 — seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was underground — is the Industrial Design Group Lab. Given how jealously Apple guards its secrets, it’s surprising to get even a single glimpse of it — much less the treasure trove of images you’ll find below. Ladies, enjoy the Ive-y eye candy in this first one. Behind his biceps are some pretty hardcore industrial machinery.
Those two images were part of this article when it was originally published. But more recently, I hit the motherlode. An official recruitment video made by Apple was leaked onto the Web, and within it were several terrific looks at the inside of the Design Lab. I took screengrabs of every location, and present them below.
When Apple employees need some downtime away from the deadlines and technogeekery, there are several recreation areas they can visit to clear their heads and get a little exercise and fresh air.
Employees can play basketball or volleyball on the on-campus courts.
On another part of Apple’s campus is located a building called the Bandley Fitness Center. Providing full-service exercise equipment to Apple employees, it includes treadmills, weightlifting machines, and more.
Last but not least, beneath the campus is a parking garage. Have fun guessing who drives these flashy cars parked there.
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