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The Raise of the multibillion-dollar corporate campus

Source | : By Agustin Chevez and DJ Huppatz

The Raise of the multibillion-dollar corporate campus

My God… It’s heaven.

This was the thought Mae Holland had on her first tour of The Circle’s campus. The landscaping, exercise classes, cafeteria and entertainers had Mae’s head spinning. Compared to the grey cubicle of her previous workplace, the campus was idyllic.

Mae’s workplace in Dave Eggers’s bestselling novel The Circle sounds remarkably similar to Apple’s new “spaceship” campus, also shaped in a giant circle.

The corporate campus might have taken its time to work into popular fiction but the idea of getting all your employees together in one giant university-style space is the continuation of something that started more than 50 years ago.

(Credit: Getty Images)

The Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s $5bn campus in Cupertino, California (Credit: Getty Images)

The suburban campus

Early corporate campuses in the United States were originally designed for research scientists and engineers. Surrounded by landscaped gardens or centred around a grassy quadrangle like an Ivy League university, the campus was a safe, serene workplace.

In 1942, communications giant AT&T created the first corporate campus, called Bell Labs in New Jersey. General Motors, General Electric and General Life Insurance followed suit with similar suburban campuses in the 1950s. Early campuses had various names – industrial park, research park or technology park – that emphasised a connection to industry and science on the one hand, and nature on the other.

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