Was Apple's Futuristic HQ Inspired By A 1960s-era San Francisco Motel?

Apple's new Cupertino HQ promises to be an ultra-modern hub of highly considered, state-of-the-art design. But was this UFO-beamed-down-from-the-future actually inspired by a architectural relic from the Bay Area's past?

John King, the San Francisco Chronicle's architecture and urban design critic, puts forth the engaging, if not entirely verifiable, theory that both Steve Jobs and Norman Foster were indelibly influenced by the now-long-gone Villa Roma—"San Francisco's most elegant motor hotel" (!)—which opened way back in 1961.

Here's King:

FACT: Steve Jobs moved to Mountain View in 1960 when he was 5 and no doubt made many visits in his formative years to San Francisco, the city of his birth.

FACT: Young architect Norman Foster in 1962 found his way to San Francisco, where he worked briefly before returning to his native England.

WILD SPECULATIVE LEAP: The model for their too-perfect-to-be-true Apple headquarters in Cupertino – a futuristic cross between a spaceship and a doughnut — is Fisherman Wharf's long-gone Villa Roma motel.

Sure, it's a jump, but the photos offer a fun "what if?" to consider. Plus King's take is less "Yeah they obviously aped it" and more: "Well, it's a definite possibility that the structure was floating around in the collective subconscious." It doesn't hurt that Foster had a brief stint in the 1960s with Anshen + Allen—the firm that also conceived the Villa Roma. OooOOoOoOoOOOOoooh! [SF Gate ]

Lead photo via Chronicle/Barney Peterson