Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, New York

Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, United States

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“Who could have imagined that... the General Motors Building that brought mediocrity and a dismal, redundant plaza to the most elegant part of New York’s Fifth Avenue would be redeemed by the Apple Store’s magic crystal cube on a newly elevated plaza, turning disaster into triumph?”
Ada Louise Huxtable, On Architecture, 2008

Process

Introduction

In the heart of New York City’s vibrant shopping district, an iconic glass cube rises up from a broad public plaza. Setting the architectural tone for Apple’s worldwide retail presence, the project stands confidently among neighboring high-rise buildings and transforms the urban landscape, restoring a gathering place to its intended prominence.

The Nature of Place

General Motors Plaza lies at the southeast corner of Central Park, with renowned hotels and shopping nearby. From its beginning in 1968, the plaza failed to fulfill its potential. Originally a sunken forecourt of underutilized retail stores, it later became an awkward elevated platform with under-the-plaza dining. This project re-establishes the plaza and space below as an exceptional urban place. In the center is a 32-foot glass cube that is both an entrance and iconographic symbol for the retail store below. Bands of stone define the plaza’s edge and provide casual seating. Rows of trees create a backdrop to two square pools, forming a welcoming place of respite.

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Photo credit: Peter Aaron

The Nature of People

A magical descent gradually reveals clean organization and rigorous details. Throughout the subterranean space, there is a profound sense of elegance and lightness. Daylight pours in from the light-gathering cube, creating a soft and ethereal glow that belies the sense of being underground. A dramatic retail environment allows customers to interact with the computers and software on display, as well as training and service personnel. Departing this serene and stimulating world, the visitor, informed and energized, is drawn upward to the daylight and view. The ascent up into the glass cube highlights a return to the open plaza and an incomparable vista of Central Park.

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Photo credit: Peter Aaron

The Nature of Materials

Entirely free of structural steel, the glass cube is self-supporting through the seamless integration of tall glass panels, and interconnected glass fins and beams. Housed within the cube is the first structural-glass spiral staircase and glass cylindrical elevator. Elegantly designed maple tables, detailed gray limestone floors and bead-blasted stainless-steel wall panels are finished to reveal the inherent qualities of each material. A custom ceiling system, comprised of narrow bands of perforated stainless-steel plate and tightly stretched white fabric, integrates and conceals the store’s climate control systems, lighting, security and acoustics.

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Photo credit: Peter Aaron

Project Data

Location:
Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, United States
Dates:
2004 – 2006, 2011
Clients:
Apple Inc.
Project PDF:

Awards/Honours

2008
Honor Award
2007
Honorable Mention, Best Retail Space
American Architecture Award
Award of Excellence for Design
Excellence in Architecture
2006
Design Award