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Apple Unveils UFO HQ plan in Cupertino

, but Who Designed It?

June 8, 2011

Apple, for all its iconic stores, has never built a properly architect-ed headquarters. That’s set to change: Steve Jobs presented plans for a 12,000-employee campus in Cupertino at a local City Council meeting yesterday. Said Jobs of the iconic scheme, “Architecture students will come here to see this.”

We assumed the radial form was most likely the work of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, who design most of Apple’s stores. But this morning, they told us that they’re “just as curious” to find out who the architects are. Our second guess was Bjarke Ingels Group, since the renderings are similar to their renderings for recent commission National Gallery of Greenland. Yet, BIG’s Copenhagen office denied any involvement. In 2010, a report in a Spanish paper claimed that Foster + Partners had been hired by Apple for the commission, which spread across the web. UPDATE: We’re hearing from inside sources that the as-yet-officially-unconfirmed-rumors are true and it’s Sir Norman Foster and team.

So, whose work is this?


Speaking to the Cupertino City Council yesterday, Jobs said, “We have a shot at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see this. I think it could be that good.” Hinting at a deal for city-wide WiFi in exchange for tax breaks, Jobs said “I’m a simpleton, I’ve always had this view that we pay taxes and the city pays to do this kind of thing. Now if we can get out of taxes, I’d be happy to put up Wi-Fi.”

Jobs described a lush campus and 6,000-tree apricot orchard, with underground parking for the tech giant’s 12,000 employees. The building will have its own natural gas plant, powering the 3.1 million square foot ring. Of the architecture itself, Jobs seemed excited about veering away from Apple’s relatively rigid geometries, saying “There’s not a straight piece of glass in this building, it’s all curved.”

In terms of the architecture firm who did the gauzily-hued renderings, it’s open season for guesses. So far, guesses from our office have included Foster + Partners and Snøhetta. Ideas? Denials? Tips? Let us know ASAP!

The Cupertino scheme reminds us a bit of the famous 1970s Stanford plan for a giant rotating space habitat for a population of 100,000.