The Aperture Laboratories are the headquarters of Aperture Science and the main location of Portal and Portal 2. Located in Upper Michigan, Michigan, USA, the facility is monitored by the computer GLaDOS.
Aperture Laboratories Tour
The Aperture Laboratories are made of the main testing facilities, named "Enrichment Center" (where the Test Chambers can be found), administration offices, and maintenance areas that link together most parts of the facility. While the facility seems to mostly be underground like the Black Mesa Research Facility, it features at least one parking lot on the surface, as well as some verdure / forested areas.
The Enrichment Center
The computer-aided Enrichment Center is the main Aperture Laboratories facility. It is used to test one of Aperture Science's most successful achievements, the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device.
The Test Chambers
The Enrichment Center contains numerous "Test Chambers" where Test Subjects are trained to perform simple to complicated tasks with the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. The tests are monitored by GLaDOS and security cameras. Aperture Science scientists can watch the tests in small offices spread around the test chambers.
Each Test Subject is accommodated in a Relaxation Vault with no privacy, set within a Test Chamber, with transparent walls, and connected to the outside with a portal.
At the start of each Test Chamber is a large rectangular luminous panel that lights itself when the Test Subject approaches, accompanied by a loud hum. The number of the current Test Chamber covers the whole upper half of the panel; under is the current test's completion bar, with the current chamber number against that of the final one, and the proper completion bar below, getting longer as each Test Chamber is completed (it is made of 76 lines; each Test Chamber starts with 4 more lines - Test Chamber 01 starts with 4 lines; Test Chamber 00 starts with the 76 lines, reached again at the start of Test Chamber 19). Under the bar are two rows of five of squares, each containing a logo of what the Test Subject is expected to see in the following chamber. The panel ends with a standard Aperture Laboratories logo at the very bottom.
A notable feature among the Test Chambers is the stark atmosphere. All of the walls and floors are a plain gray, and the overall feeling is one of a clinic or clean room. This motif continues until Chell escapes, at which point the atmosphere becomes dark and foreboding while Chell navigates through the innards of the Enrichment Center. The known Test Chambers range from Test Chamber 00 to 19.
The offices comprise the observation rooms that the Aperture Science staff used to watch Test Subjects executing their task in the Test Chambers, as well as other offices, connected by dimly-lit corridors. The offices contain chairs and computers and seem to have been last used long ago. Computers seem to be stuck into some sort of loop, some are disconnected, their cases open, and several chairs are knocked over. Clipboards and empty cups are scattered on the desks. Two office areas contain a projection room where a looping slideshow titled "Dollar$ and Sense: Competing with Black Mesa for DoD and Government-wide Acquisition Contracts" can be seen.
GLaDOS is stored in the center of a large octagonal chamber, suspended from the ceiling. In the small lobby area, the Aperture Science Red Phone is located next to several computers. Under a concealed door, a Rocket Sentry is kept, seemingly for security, and numerous monitor screens line the walls and encircle GLaDOS.
The Maintenance Areas
These areas (nicknamed "bts", or "behind the scenes" by the Portal developers) are in very bad condition, suggesting they have been abandoned for a while. There can be seen many parts of the Aperture Science Pipe Network (with occasional broken tubes) that brings the Weighted Storage Cubes into the Test Chambers, elevators bringing the Sentry Guns, and other machinery. A room dedicated to the maintenance and fixing of the Sentry Guns can also be found, as well as a long office dedicated to the maintenance of home computers, overlooking a large room filled with toxic liquid.
Before GLaDOS Was Activated
From Humble Beginnings
Built in Cleveland, Ohio, USA sometime after the founding of Aperture Science in 1953, the Aperture Laboratories is the main headquarters for the company. It is unknown if the same complex is used during the time Aperture was a shower curtain manufacturer.
The Mercury Poisoning
After contracting mercury poisoning in 1974, both of Aperture CEO Cave Johnson's kidneys fail in 1976. He then lays out a three-tier plan for the future of his company: the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver, the Take-A-Wish Foundation, and most notably, the 'Portal' project, which gives birth to the development of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. Testing for the 'Portal' project calls for the construction of the Enrichment Center, a large area of the Aperture Laboratories consisting of Test Chambers and offices, where Test Subjects test the ASHPD.
The Competition Begins
In 1986, Aperture Science hears of similar portal technology being developed by Black Mesa. To counter this, construction of the first Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System (GLaDOS) begins in Aperture Laboratories, with the aims to accelerate the 'Portal' project.
She was turned on
A True Start
GLaDOS is switched on during the Aperture Science's first annual bring-your-daughter-to-work-day.
A Black Day
Within one picosecond of being active, GLaDOS becomes self-aware, locks down the entire facility, hoping to seize control, and floods the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin. Quickly, the Aperture employees fit her with a Morality Core to insure she is kept under control. GLaDOS still manages to wrestle control of the facility from her now trapped creators however, and is soon in full control of the Enrichment Center, with several Test Subjects as her rats, including Aperture employee Doug Rattmann. GLaDOS aims to beat Black Mesa in the race for portal technology. However, she effectively loses this race when the Black Mesa Incident occurs mere days later.
Twenty Years Later
Chell Comes Along
Just over twenty years after GLaDOS's takeover, Chell is awakened in her Relaxation Vault, and guided as a Test Subject by GLaDOS, utilizing the completed Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. Chell finds the facility showing clear signs of decay and neglect, with GLaDOS showing signs of instability. Chell later comes across hidden alcoves in the chamber walls, where desperate messages are written on the walls by Doug Rattmann, who seemed to have gone slightly mad during his testing. At the conclusion of Chell's testing, instead of the cake that was promised, she is met with an incinerator, which she narrowly escapes. It is here that GLaDOS reveals her true murderous nature, but attempts to convince Chell to return to the testing area and wait for the planned "party associate". Chell ignores her, and makes her way through the decaying maintenance areas of the facility, where none have clearly been for years. After many ambushes by GLaDOS and her Sentry Guns, Chell finally finds herself in GLaDOS's main control center. After destroying GLaDOS's Morality Core, the robot, now free of her murderous restraints, begins to once again flood the building with neurotoxins. However, Chell manages to incinerate the A.I.'s Personality Cores before being consumed by the toxins, and GLaDOS is seemingly destroyed while Chell is transported outside to the parking lot, where she is dragged away by the previously mentioned party associate, and brought back inside in stasis.
Despite her apparent destruction, however, GLaDOS files a letter to Chell, claiming to be "still alive" and that she is not angry with her. GLaDOS then activates a series of Personality Cores and re-captures the laboratories, which were heavily damaged after GLaDOS's explosion.
A Century Later
GLaDOS is Miraculously Alive
Hundreds of years pass while the facility is falling apart, with Test Chambers crumbling and foliage rampant throughout. The Personality Cores become restless, showing concern for the ruined state of the complex, and new Test Chambers are built. One such core, Wheatley, awakens Chell from stasis, and convinces her to escape the facility, bringing Wheatley with her. Chell agrees, and the two set out across the building complex. After navigating through the maintenance areas, with Wheatley babbling incessantly, the pair find an elevator, which the core attempts to activate. It begins to ascend however, and before Wheatley can stop it, the two find themselves facing GLaDOS, who sits in ruin in the remains of her chamber. GLaDOS, bitter towards Chell, forces her to resume her tests with the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. Due to the state of the facility however, GLaDOS is trying to keep the Test Chambers stable at the same time, so reluctantly forces Chell to proceed into the maintenance areas to pass, where the latter is free from GLaDOS's watch for the first time.