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Architectural: CMF Inc. Takes on “Unmatched Challenge” of Stunning New Apple Headquarters

May 31, 2018

Apple HQ Building“Challenging” is a major understatement for the award-winning architectural work performed by SMACNA architectural contractor CMF Inc. of Orange, California, on Apple Inc.’s innovative $5 billion new Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California.

The new Apple Park, with its futuristic spaceship feel, encompasses 176 acres, including a 2.8 million-square-foot, ring-shaped main building that stretches almost a mile in circumference along with two parking garages and a central utility building.

Apple HQ “The project—largely due to its enormous size and round footprint—presented challenges on a scale that were unmatched in our company’s history,” said Dave Duclett, president and CEO of CMF Inc.\

The engineering and design effort began three and a half years before the job completion date and continued almost weekly to solve jobsite issues for one of the most anticipated and complex buildings in the world.

With its huge campus footprint, even adding a single flashing could equate to hundreds of additional man-hours for CMF Inc. The ripple effect to incorporate exterior changes like a flashing were significant due to the mile in circumference of such a huge building.

Installed tolerances were also never allowed to be more than 1/8-inch on the building and needed to exhibit the same quality of workmanship as the iPhone, iPad, and other computer products that Apple sells.

“Our company installed the breezeway insulated panels, louvers, expansion joints, ridge and eave fascia, light troughs, clerestory end panels, radiused-blade moat grilles, insulated moat panels, and general sheet metal throughout the headquarters building,” Duclett said. “We also installed the aluminum rod cladding, ACM panels on bridges, roofing, galvanized purlins for solar panels, custom elevator fronts, column covers and aluminum PV Inverter tubes on the parking garages.”

“Every part had to exhibit the same quality of workmanship as the Apple products that the company sells,” he noted. To demonstrate his company’s commitment, Duclett bought Apple iPhones, iPads, and laptops for all managers, supervisors, and foremen on the job.

“To demonstrate his commitment, Duclett bought Apple iPhones, iPads, and laptops for all managers, supervisors, and foremen on the job.”

CMF got the job in part because “we had experience working with both DPR Construction and construction group Skanska” Duclett said. “We were also agreeable to providing and installing the main product, the insulated and sound-attenuated panels manufactured by Trimo in Slovenia.”

Apple GarageComplications reigned. One of the biggest initial problems was that of language and translation. “On phone calls, it would take a lot of effort to understand what each other was saying,” Duclett recalled. “That added a time factor and made it more difficult to get the work done.” The Slovenian company also used metric units, while the U.S. companies used the U.S. measurement system.

Transforming the design concept into reality, including installing the panel system, was also challenging. The original schedule had to be extended by more than a year. Many structural components were radiused; others were straight. And fabrication and installation requirements were constantly being modified or adjusted to meet reality.

“Originally, Steve Jobs wanted everything built to 1/16-inch tolerance, but construction tolerances don’t allow that degree of perfection,” Duclett added.

Four separate contractors added to the complexity—for the interior, exterior skin, landscaping, and solar panels. CMF also worked with the exterior skin contractor, Holder Construction, who took over after DPR and Skanska left the project.

The project required 135,300 man-hours to complete.

The finished product was exactly what the customer wanted. “Being involved in one of the most iconic and complex buildings in the USA was worth coping with all of the challenges,” Duclett said.

For its attention to detail and expertise, the project won the 2018 Tom Guilfoy Craftsmanship Award in the Architectural category from CAL-SMACNA.

Materials by the Mile Make the Massive Apple Park

The Apple Park project in Cupertino, California, took 3½ years to build, 135,500 man-hours, and with a value of $28 million. The 2.8 million-square-foot main building stretched almost a mile in circumference. The building contained:

  • Two lineal miles (100,000 square feet) of insulated and sound-attenuated Trimo metal panels.

  • 60,000 square feet of insulated Kingspan moat panels.

  • 6,700 lineal feet of custom radius louvered grilles.

  • 9,600 lineal feet of welded aluminum ridge fascia with light trough.

  • 9,200 lineal feet of aluminum eave fascia.

  • 28,000 square feet of 6-inch-thick insulated clerestory panels.

  • 50 sea containers of metal panels and accessories on about 16 pallets of materials each.

The parking garages and a central plant involved:

  • 51 miles of purlins to support solar panels.

  • 1.8 million pounds of 12-gage galvanized steel.

  • 22,000 square feet of ACM panels.

  • 5,600 lineal feet of custom light-glare aluminum rod cladding.

  • custom stainless steel elevator fronts.

  • 125 aluminum column covers.