This past Wednesday, workers removed the red plastic curtain covering the Apple store’s new cylindrical glass tower to prepare for the store’s Saturday opening. The tower, which is surrounded by two large skyscrapers and a substantial circular wall of concrete, includes a spiral glass staircase leading to an underground retail space – just like New York’s.
In both cases, the New York and the Shanghai designs represent a return to elementary geometry – simple basic forms, utilizing the transparency of glass to allow light into hard to reach spaces. Yet, the geometry also responds specifically to the site conditions. For instance, when Bohlin met Jobs to discuss the Fifth Avenue store, Bohlin drew the rough outlines of a cube in front of the General Motors tower. “The best thing about that building is its narrow profile. So I thought, ‘What is the inevitable shape to contrast that?’ ” Bohlin said. And, this cylindrical form has undoubtedly been a response to the building’s existing outer concrete wall.
By focusing on real architectural issues, such as light, site context and the feeling a space can evoke, BCJ created a recipe for Apple that is flexible enough to produce variety, but cohesive enough to create an iconic line of related buildings. All photography from Flickr user Lesh51. Sources: The Philadelphia Inquirer and 9to5Mac