Set to be completed in late 2016 or early 2017, Apple’s new Spaceship campus will be a marvel to behold once construction winds down and Apple employees begin making the transition over from 1 Infinite Loop.

An ambitious project to say the least, it’s been estimated that Apple will have spent upwards of $5 billion on construction costs by the time the dust settles. Featuring a completely circular design — hence the unofficial title of Spaceship Campus — Apple’s new headquarters will feature more than 3,000 curved panels of glass on the perimeter. Additionally, the new building will include a mammoth theater capable of accommodating as many as 1,000 people. All told, the new building will house more than 13,000 employees once construction wraps up.

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Recently, Popular Science was granted unprecedented access to the construction site of Apple’s upcoming new “Spaceship” campus. And while we’ve already seen quite a bit about the materials being used in Apple’s new building, Popular Science provides us with even more information about the processes used in order to construct such a forward-thinking building.

The work involved with respect to the building’s exterior glass panes is particularly fascinating. With each pane of glass measuring in somewhere between 36 and 46 feet wide and 10 and a half feet tall, the panels are believed to be the world’s largest “pieces of curved structural glass.”

Manipulating glass into a curved shape is typically done during the tempering process. But this does not always result in a crystal-clear panel. To preserve clarity, the glass gurus tried something else. “We curved the glass during the final step of lamination,” says sedak/seele managing director Nelli Diller, “right after heating it to 600 degrees Celsius [1,112 degrees Fahrenheit] to strengthen it.”

Once finalized, the 20-ton crates of glass are shipped from Germany to California by boat, via the Atlantic Ocean through the Panama Canal. Each glass panel is installed by grabbing the glass with suction cups and moving it very slowly into place. All told, the campus boasts 900 panes of vertical glass, 1,600 panes of canopy glass, 510 panes of clerestory glass, and 126 panes for skylight glass. The heaviest pieces weigh over 3 tons. The best glass today has a 1/8-inch tolerance, meaning it can be 1/8-inch longer or shorter than specified. But Apple’s glass was designed with even closer precision:a 1/32-inch tolerance.

Video of Popular Science’s visit to the construction site can be viewed below.

And make sure to hit the source link below for a thorough run-through of all the materials being used and all the engineering work that went into making this ambitious construction project a reality.

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