Calculating the Size of Apple’s Spaceship HQ

New architectural information has been released about Apple’s proposed, so-called spaceship headquarters in Cupertino. There are lots of things to know about it, but one interesting fact is the diameter. How does it compare, for example, to the DOD’s Pentagon? I was curious.

1. First, let’s look at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA. According to Wikipedia, each side of the Pentagon is 921 ft (281 m) long. A circle circumscribed on the outside of a pentagon whose sides are 921 ft long has a radius of 783 ft. So a circle that would circumscribe the Pentagon has a diameter of 1,566 ft.

r = (921 ft/2)/(sin 36 deg) = 783 ft.


Image credit: Wikipedia

2. There are several ways to get at the size of Apple’s spaceship. For the sake of a sanity check, I used Google Maps to calculate the distance from Wolfe Road to Tantau Ave. I printed out the map and used a ruler to extrapolate the distance. It came out to 2632 ft.

New Apple campus loc.

Credit: Google Maps

3. Next, I looked at the architectural drawing pointed to by Jeff Gamet’s “Cupertino Unveils Apple Spaceship Campus Details.” Digging down, I found this plot, again with Wolfe Road and Tantau Ave clearly marked.

Apple Campus Arch. Drawing

I couldn’t find a notation on that drawing of the diameter of the circular building, but I did find scale marks at the bottom. Note that the distance between the outside red arrows is marked as 600 ft. By that scale, I measured the distance between Wolfe Road and Tantau Ave as 2653 ft.

Given that comforting sanity check, I measured the diameter of the Apple spaceship as 1615 ft, plus or minus a few ft., depending on where one places the ruler. That’s a radius of 807.5 ft.

So, if one could magically fly the future Apple spaceship to Arlington, VA and hover over the Pentagon, it would just slightly cover it. [See the UPDATE below.]

Here’s a rough overlay* showing the Apple HQ, the Pentagon, and top to bottom: a cruise ship, a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier, what looks like a U.S. Navy Blimp, a WWII battleship, the Empire State Building and a supertanker.

Apple HQ - Pentagon Overlay

This was a fun exercise and helps one put into perspective the size of the proposed new Apple headquarters.


* Pentagon overlay graphic: wikipedia.

UPDATE: Some of our expert readers have dug into the docs and found the exact number for the Apple spaceship radius. It’s just under 761 ft. My estimate was high by 6%, and so the outer radius wouldn’t completely cover the Pentagon.