Apple May Have Based Its New Spaceship HQ On This Amazing Retro-Futuristic Shopping Center! [Gallery]


Did Apple borrow the design for its new spaceship-like Cupertino HQ from this retro-futuristic design made for the NYC Columbia Circle Shopping Center back in the 1940s?
Did Apple borrow the design for its new spaceship-like Cupertino HQ from this retro-futuristic design made for the NYC Columbia Circle Shopping Center back in the 1940s?

Apple’s never been afraid to borrow great ideas and make them their own. It should be no surprise, then, that Apple’s latest great idea — a giantspaceship-like HQ — was borrowed from someone else’s design. What may surprise you is the original design was made way back in the 1940s!

Over sixty years ago, New York City commissioned architect Matthew Nowicki to put together a design for a proposed new Shopping Center in Columbus Circle. It was never actually built, but as you can see from the plans below, it bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s new spaceship HQ… right down to an underground parking garage.

Compare those plans with Apple’s model of the overhead view of their new Cupertino HQ:

Pretty close, huh? And it might just be me, but it also looks like Apple might have borrowed some of the innovative ideas of Hudsucker Industries designer Norman Barnes, particularly this gem of an idea from way back in 1958…

You know... for kids!

For more information about Matthew Nowicki’s work, check out this fantastic post over at Good Night, Raleigh!

What do you think? Was Apple inspired by Nowicki’s unbuilt design for the Columbus Circle Shopping Center, or is it just coincidence? Let us know in the comments!

  • Kevin Reavey

    +5 points for the Hudsucker reference

  • Comments

    Hmmm…I haven’t hit my quota of useless articles for the day.  Oh!  I know!  Let’s do a google search for circular building designs and create a ridiculous headline.  Gotta get my webpage hits.   I’m such a thorough blogger.  Should I pat myself on the back now?

  • Aarchit

    Hmm. First it is the Architect they hired that may have been inspired by previous works. But again to be able to minimize the footprint of your building and still get occupancy density, a circle or other non rectilinear mass is is the way to go….I call it coincidence

  • cheesy11

    now that is pretty awesome, inspiration is always from somewhere i dont think that one thing contributed to the design as a whole

  • Bob Forsberg

    I originally thought Apple borrowed my design of a secret Iranian nuclear accelerator, but realized it was my frisbee design.

  • Patric Jernberg

    The design is obviously inspiresd by the track wheel of the iPod Classic, the product that brought Apple back to the limelight!

  • Gbot3

    Try searching PANOPTICON. Kinda scary

  • nolavabo

    You have it wrong. Function and form inspire each other, thus it is obviously Apple’s own SHC (as opposed to an LHC).

  • MacAdvisor

    Note the shopping center has a spire in the center, just what the Apple HQ needs. The original design has it right.

  • Er9

    So you guys have Joe Wilcox writing headlines now?
    That’s great…

  • lwdesign1

    I think this comparison is really reaching. Yes, they’re both circular buildings with an interior grassy court–and that’s about it. This is like saying rockets that launch payloads into space were inspired by candles–they look similar and they both have flames coming out of them. No, rockets were designed that way because of their function and the physics involved. A long, thin tube is aerodynamically stable and is controllable at high speed in air.

    I sincerely doubt that the designers of Apple’s new mothership building even knew about the plans for a building that was never built in the 40’s. The idea of a building with an interior courtyard is centuries old. During the Roman empire it was common to have an atrium (interior courtyard) where the owners could relax and enjoy nature and sunshine in the privacy of their own homes. Good designers, especially good architects, look at the functions of the building first (capacity, purpose, interconnectivity, etc.) and work backwards from that, adding aesthetics to make the space a comfortable and pleasing environment to live or work in.

  • Anon Developer
  • Chris

    the circle has always been a source of inspiration

  • Acemetrical

    I like blogs, they give you a touch of information on things immediately without wasting all that time researching or understanding what the hell they’re talking about. And as we all know, immediacy is always more important than accuracy. I have always enjoyed John Brownlee’s commentary on things, and truly the only time I ever look to see who wrote an article it invariably turns out to have been written by him. Kudos to you, sir. However this article is preposterous, and should frankly be taken down. 

    A donut – or torus – is a timeless and simple shape which architects have been playing with since the dawn of time. Stonehenge anyone? And since then they’ve gone on to do amazing things with the form. Type in “circular building” or “torus building” in google images and you’ll see thousands of different examples. 

    Therefore, to arbitrarily choose one of these MANY buildings, and then sensationally say that Apple’s new campus is based on it, using only a bird’s eye view photo and a some sort of simple massing plan for the comparison is simply stupid, and deeply insulting to the architects involved. You supply no references, and no sense of scale or utility in your argument. You provide no discussion of the cross section, site planning, or technologies used in construction. It’s ridiculous! In your parlance it’s like saying the iMac stole its design from a pack of cards because they’re both rectangular.  

    Please retract this article, substantially alter the title, or do some real research. You’re better than this, John.

    Also, I’d hazard a guess that the real inspiration is the name of their current campus, 1 Infinite Loop.

  • cheesy11

    by that post i see that this was just a random pointless blog perhaps

  • Ronald Stepp

    Gasp, or maybe big buildings shaped like donuts look like other big buildings shaped like donuts.

    Reminds me of the old Elvis line, “No Elvis Impersonator looks like Elvis, but they all look like each other.”

  • MrKevinSD

    I think they stole it from Jacque Fresco.

  • aardman

    Aren’t all these circular buildings just derivatives of the colosseum in Rome?  Or even Stonehenge?

  • 1stkorean

    apple is known for taking others work, so this is absolutely no surprise.  i also speculate, if it is built jobs will never step foot in it, he looks real bad.

  • Another unsubscriber

    Just when you thought Brownlee couldn’t go any lower…he wrote this.

  • Joel

    I’m surprised that I have not heard any reference the space station from 2001: A Space Odyssey!

  • Rio
  • marvinmao

    I found a site where you can get coupons for restaurant called “printapons” they are on all over the news, search online

  • brownlee

    Maybe you should write that blog post. I wrote this one.

  • Leo Beraldo

    Looks like Maracanã…ã_(stadium)