Distracted employees are walking into glass walls in Apple’s new headquarters

Apple Park Tour
Jeremy Kaplan/Digital Trends
Jeremy Kaplan/Digital Trends

Walking into glass walls when sleep deprived and stupid drunk is somewhat expected, but walking into the same walls when you’re perfectly wide awake can be a highly embarrassing “Yep, I did that” experience. That is exactly what’s supposedly happening to “distracted” Apple employees at the company’s new futuristic ring-shaped headquarters in Cupertino, California. 

The iPhone maker opened Apple Park to employees in April 2017. It’s nicknamed as “the spaceship” given its circular, futuristic design spanning a one-mile circumference. It plays host to around 13,000 employees seated on seven floors: Four above the ground, and three below. It’s a massive Close Encounters-inspired building packing glass walls, and if you’re not paying close attention, headaches and coffee stains could be in your future. 

Along with relying on glass walls, the ring-shaped Apple Park includes a 30-acre courtyard within the inner part of the complex consisting of a pond, fruit trees, and winding pathways. The building provides glass-based viewing portals of this park along with views of the landscape surrounding the building’s exterior. Apple shoved all roads and parking spaces underground. 

While the aesthetics of the building are unquestionably gorgeous, distracted employees are reportedly having a difficult time navigating through all the glass. According to reports, these workers are actually leaving sticky notes on the glass panes so co-workers texting on their iPhones as they walk through the building aren’t smashing their faces. Employees are leaving other markings too. 

Apple won’t comment on the report, so there’s no indication of how many Close Encounters of the Glass Kind incidents the company received since the building threw open its transparent doors. But according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website, there are no reported glass-inspired injuries stemming from Apple Park … at least, not yet. 

Apple’s affinity for glass can be seen through its retail stores. In 2012, an 83-year-old woman sued Apple for $1 million after smashing her face on the glass-based entrance. Her argument was that Apple didn’t make the store more accessible for the elderly given its transparent customer-facing appearance. She simply approached the store, walked straight into the glass entrance, and broke her nose. 

“The defendant was negligent … in allowing a clear, see-through glass wall and/or door to exist without proper warning,” her lawsuit claimed. Her lawyer added that she was an octogenarian and could see very well but just didn’t see the glass because there were no clear markings. Apple settled the lawsuit in 2013. 

Still, the company apparently didn’t learn its lesson. Based on the description of Apple Park, there are no clear markings indicating where glass walls cross your field of view, requiring employees to create their own markings to safely navigate through the ring-shaped building.