Friday, April 27, 2012

Apple to build offsite employee-only cafeteria, eliminate eavesdropping

Apple's level of secrecy over its projects and products has been called draconian, even to the point of inconveniencing (and that's putting it nicely) employees, and soon they won't even be able to leave Apple's facilities to have lunch, for fear of competitors overhearing their conversations. Admittedly, that's a little hyperbolic, but there is a measure of truth to that statement.

Apple has had a planning request approved by the Cupertino Planning Commission, one that will allow the company to build a two-story, cafeteria-style facility to accommodate employees that currently work out of the various Apple facilities along Bandley Drive on the west side of North De Anza Boulevard. The key: the facility will be Apple-owned, and private, with no public access.

This location is a short walk from Apple's current Infinite Loop headquarters.

Dan Whisenhunt, Apple's director of real estate facilities, said the following at Tuesday's meeting of the Planning Commision: "We like to provide a level of security so that people and employees can feel comfortable talking about their business, their research and whatever project they're engineering without fear of competition sort of overhearing their conversations. That is a real issue today in Cupertino because we've got other companies here in our same business."

The projected site is located on the northeast corner of Bandley and Alves Drives, near a hotel that is currently under construction. The majority of offices in the area are Apple-occupied.

The new cafeteria will encompass 21,468-square feet. In addition to the obvious eating facility, The cafeteria will have meeting rooms, lounge areas and courtyard space. The second floor will be used only by employees of the cafeteria only, and will include storage, staff locker rooms and restrooms, and more.

The facility will include an underground garage capable of housing 70 vehicles, with approximately 27,099 square feet of area. Apple, however, expects most employees to bike, walk or take company shuttles to the cafeteria.

In terms of those shuttles, Apple has committed to 228 passenger trips per hour during the mid-day lunch hour peak. If necessary, Apple told the Cupertino Planning Commission, it will have the ability to double that number of trips.

While this will obviously enhance privacy for Apple's employees, if the company really wants to ensure secrecy, it should have employees eschew bars, at least when they are carrying protoypes.

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