The iconic store started out as open space that architects hated and people had all but written off. It shows that every space has design and building potential.
Popularly referred to as Apple’s ‘cube’, Apple’s New York City most important things to living with Fifth Avenue store is the most famous one among all of their retail stores and also probably one of the most iconic stores in the United States.
When Apple reopened the store after a bout of renovation and redesign, there was a predictable rush of excitement. From designers and architects to selfie-takers, everybody has been checking out the new cube.
As a leading interior designer in Dhaka, Imagine Interiors was naturally curious as to what all the hoopla was about.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
Where did it all start?
In 2003, property Harry Macklowe bought New York’s famous General Motor building for over $1 billion.
The building itself was pretty well-known but the sale included an open plaza in front of it which was rejected as useless. No architect or designer wanted to have anything to do with it.
Out of options, Macklowe sought a meeting with Steve Jobs to see if he’d open an Apple store there.
Jobs did have plans for a store at the plaza, but his proposal was too big for the plaza.
Macklowe knew he wouldn’t be able to talk Jobs out of his design dream, so he pulled a fast one.
He erected a scaffolding over the plaza, in the right dimensions for the plaza. And over that, he erected another scaffolding representing Jobs’ vision. And he invited two Apple executives over at 2AM in the morning.
They could immediately see that the overlying scaffolding, in line with the Jobs vision, was too large.
Then, Macklowe ordered the outer scaffolding to be pulled down, revealing the inner one, in proportion with the plaza.
The dramatic effect was enough to convince the Apple executives that Macklowe was right about the size of the proposed Apple store and them in turn their boss to go for a smaller design.
And that is how a plot of vacant land rejected by architects came to house one of America’s best known retail stores.
Features that make it such an iconic space
The ‘cube’ is actually just ornamental. The entire store is underground.
While it may have been more practical to just build the underground store, the cube (made of glass) has definitely added to the aesthetics of the entire store and added value not only to the Apple brand but also to the GM Building (remember it’s built on the plaza in front of the GM Building).
Apple has added other entrances to the underground store but the bulk of visitors prefer to visit through the cube till today which reveals the brand value of the cube.
The lift and stairs
Both a lift and stairs have been included to help more people reach down to the underground store.
The stairs spiral round the lift, which is centrally aligned in the cube, making for a spectacular combination.
In keeping with Apple’s overall brand, the design has been kept simple.
Straight tables, elementary shapes and a limited number of colors make for a clean and professional look overall.
80 skylights (holes in the ceiling or the ground depending on whether you’re in the store or on the plaza) have been arranged in a grid to allow natural light to flood through the store.
It’s not like Apple can’t pay power bills, so this clearly points to an acceptance of the utility of allowing natural light in your office, store or home.
The skylights open up into ‘sky lenses’ on the plaza. Skylenses are places for people to sit and also offering them a view of the store down below.
The lighting also includes a large number of LEDs that change intensity depending on the time of day, making the store appear less artificial.
There are actual trees inside the store, with seats for people to sit under them.
Plus there are several ‘green’ or ‘living’ sections along the walls (meaning plants growing on the walls). Having plants indoors has several benefits including
- They look good.
- They can keep the temperature from rising excessively.
- They can filter the air and make it fresh.
Clearly, Harry Macklowe’s persistence with his ‘useless’ plaza, Steve Jobs’ design dream and some serious planning by Foster + Partners, the design and engineering firm who handled the renovation, has translated into a top-notch asset for Apple.
You can create an iconic workplace for yourself as well.
Just remember to have a design dream, be persistent and remember to check the credentials of the design firm you’re consulting for your office design project.