Apple is building a new research and development center in Japan, and Japanese news site NHK has given us our first glimpse at what it will look like. In typical Apple fashion, the facility will ditch conventional architectural standards and feature a breathtakingly beauitful design. The new research and development center will be constructed on the outskirts of Yokohama, the second biggest city in Japan.
We first learned about the proposed research campus in December 2014, and Apple confirmed at the time that they were planning the facility. In a statement reported by The Wall Street Journal, Apple said, “We’re excited to expand our operations in Japan with a new technical development center in Yokohama which will create dozens of new jobs.”
The planned building will be environmentally friendly, designed to use low levels of energy and recycled water, and will feature trees planted on the roof. Construction has not yet begun, but is planned to start before the end of the year, with completion scheduled for some time in 2016.
In a news conference, Yokohama’s mayor announced that Apple had purchased the remains of a Panasonic factory on the site, and would build a 25,000 square meter facility over four floors. This suggests being able to house several hundred employees, but Apple could also be making room for future expansion. Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said, “Apple’s presence could trigger a virtuous cycle where new values and industries will be created. I hope the company will cooperate with small firms and universities.”
Apple’s new spaceship campus in Cupertino will allow the company to house many more of its employees on a single site, but maintaining satellite offices around the world allows for tapping into local expertise and hiring talent who might be unwilling to relocate to the U.S.
Yokohama won’t be Apple’s first satellite facility for research and development. The company also maintains research campuses in places like Florida, Seattle, Boston, Israel, China, and England, among others. We don’t know what sort of research Apple could be planning in Yokohama, but The Japan Times reported that the company “is looking to secure excellent Japanese engineers and take advantage of the facilities to expand its sales in Japan, an industry source said.”
Panasonic’s plans are to redevelop the site, formerly used to house a measuring instrument plant shut down in 2011, into the Tsunashima Sustainable Smart town, including retail facilities and condominiums in addition to the Apple facility.