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Architecture

Sending a Drone to Spy on Apple's New Headquarters


The latest stealthy use for a drone: sidestepping Apple’s (AAPL) legendary commitment to secrecy.

A drone equipped with a GoPro (GPRO:US) camera helped make possible the first video footage of the tech giant’s sprawling corporate campus under construction in Cupertino, Calif. The doughnut-shaped headquarters, designed by British architect Norman Foster, will accommodate 12,000 employees in 2.8 million square feet of space. The campus will include 176 acres of trees—a feature not yet evident in a bird’s-eye view showing a bleak, beige landscape.

Here’s what is clear from the drone video: Much of the daunting excavation work has already been done. Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Peter Burrows reported last year that the project would remove so much ground that excavation alone was expected to takes six months, even with a continuous convoy of trucks.

The building will cost nearly $5 billion, or more than $1,500 per square foot, thanks in part to the unprecedented 40-foot panes of curved glass from Germany that will form the exterior. Steve Jobs was known for taking an uncompromising and exhaustive approach to his design projects, which extended beyond his company’s products to its retail stores, and the drone video shows that his legacy endures.

Apple is expected to move into its new headquarters no sooner than 2016.

Lanks is the design editor of Businessweek.com.

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