“That the world’s first e-mail was sent from a picnic table outside at Zott’s goes well with the rest of Silicon Valley lore, like the founding of Hewlett-Packard in one garage and Apple in another,” Paul Goldberger writes for Vanity Fair. “Most of Silicon Valley is suburban sprawl, plain and simple, its main artery a wide boulevard called El Camino Real that might someday possess some degree of urban density but now could be on the outskirts of Phoenix. Zott’s is what passes for local color, but even this spirited roadhouse has a certain generic look to it. You could imagine it being almost anywhere out West, the same way that so much of Silicon Valley looks like generic suburbia.”
“And even after a few people began doing unusual things in their garages, and other people started inventing things in the university’s laboratories, and even after some of these turned into the beginnings of large corporations, some of which became successful beyond anyone’s imagination—even these things didn’t make Silicon Valley look all that different from everyplace else,” Goldberger writes. “The tech companies got bigger and bigger, but that has generally just meant that the sprawl sprawled farther. There was certainly nothing about the physical appearance of these few square miles that told you it was the place that had generated more wealth than anywhere else in our time.”
“Until now, that is. In June of 2011, four months before his death, Steve Jobs appeared before the City Council of Cupertino, where Apple’s headquarters are located. It was the last public appearance Jobs would make, and if it did not have quite the orchestrated panache of his carefully staged product unveilings in San Francisco, it was fixed even more on the future than the latest iPhone,” Goldberger writes. “Jobs was presenting the designs for a new headquarters building that Apple proposed to build, and that the City Council would have to approve. It was a structure unlike any other that his company, or any other in the world, had ever built: a glass building in the shape of a huge ring, 1,521 feet in diameter (or nearly five football fields), and its circumference would curve for nearly a mile. It was designed by Sir Norman Foster, the British-born architect known for the elegance of his work and for the uncompromising nature of his sleek, modern aesthetic—close to Jobs’s own. In a community that you could almost say has prided itself on its indifference to architecture, Apple, which had already changed the nature of consumer products, seemed now to want to try to do nothing less than change Silicon Valley’s view of what buildings should be.”
“Tim Tosta, a San Francisco land-use and environmental lawyer sees the Valley as having no choice but to become gradually more city-like. For better or worse, though, it is the two most architecturally ambitious projects, Foster’s Apple spaceship and Gehry’s Facebook workroom under a garden, that will define the region’s architecture for the next decade. It’s notable that when Silicon Valley finally felt ready to up the architectural ante it went to two of the most established brand names in the business. While neither building is conservative by any standard, neither Foster nor Gehry represents the kind of commitment to being at the cutting edge that these companies try to maintain on the technology front,” Goldberger writes. “It would be intriguing to imagine what architects a generation or two behind Foster, who is 78, and Gehry, who is 84, would have come up with if they had been asked to think about the problem of an office of the future for a company of the future.”
Tones more in the full article – recommended – here.