Compiled by Team IAnD
Photography: Nigel Young; courtesy Foster+Partners
Read Time: 3 mins
Signature 42-ft tall sliding glass doors of Apple’s new store in San Francisco’s Union Square open to many new features and services…
Designed by Foster+Partners in close collaboration with Apple, the building’s unique position connects San Francisco’s most famous square to a rejuvenated plaza to the north, creating a beautiful gathering place for the community; it offers seating, public WiFi, a 50-ft tall “green wall” and regular acoustic performances. The store is powered by 100% renewable energy, including power produced by photovoltaic panels integrated into the building’s roof.
The new store takes transparency to a whole new level. Starting with the store front, it breaks down barriers, making it more egalitarian and accessible. The Ruth Asawa fountain, an important heritage feature in San Francisco, has been given a new setting on the steps leading down to Stockton Street. Taking advantage of San Francisco’s moderate climate, the steel framed glass sliding doors encourage natural ventilation throughout the store.
Apple has always been a pioneer in the use of glass. The treads of the glass staircases on either side of the store are held in place by precisely engineered metal lozenge shaped ‘pucks’ that are discreetly embedded into the glass tread and the stringer to give the impression of floating glass steps.
The entire building is quietly supported by a giant steel truss structure that bridges over the neighbouring hotel basement ballroom. In turn, this supports further trusses that create the tapered ceiling shape and integrate the network of services throughout the building.
Seismic engineering design principles have guided every aspect of the structural design, setting a standard for innovation and performance. The generous 40 ft-high volume is divided horizontally by a dramatic cantilevered mezzanine floor. The extremely slim column-free floor structure is made possible by tuned mass dampers to eliminate vibration. The impression is of a floating stage in the centre of the space in dialogue with Union Square, creating a spectacular living room for the city.
Pushing the boundaries of innovation, the luminous white ceiling, appearing opaque during the day, surprises visitors by gradually illuminating the space at night. The custom-made lighting panels emit a pure, even white glow, as well as having the capability to absorb ambient noise.
The new store introduces four new features apart from the plaza: ‘The Avenue’ - a specially designed area for the display of accessories incorporated into the central spine wall. The ‘Forum’, a new learning environment, where specialists from various fields come to entertain, inspire and teach. The ‘Genius Grove’ with a more relaxed setting amongst a small grove of trees, each within a single planter that doubles as a comfortable place to sit and rest while an Apple Genius answers any questions. And lastly, the ‘Boardroom’ – a place where the store’s Business Team offers hands-on advice and training to entrepreneurs, developers and other small and medium business customers.