Apple Stores have always been the pinnacle of retail selling, but Cupertino has taken things to a new level with its new Union Square store in San Francisco.
Replacing the older store at nearby Market Street, the new flagship retail location was opened on May 21, 2016.
Designed by Foster + Partners, the new store is everything you would expect an Apple Store to be, and everything you would expect a retail space not to be. The biggest attractions are the glass doors, the largest of the kind in the world, standing 42 feet tall. Weighing about 20 tons each, it takes about 10 minutes to open fully. But once open, the store becomes a part of the landmark Union Square almost merging with the sidewalk.
The store builds on the concept of a town square and offers a public space for people to learn, collaborate, and of course browse and buy Apple products.
The glass facade is made of four layers of laminated glass. The back facade is three layers of laminated glass. The glass balustrade of the staircase is five layers of laminated glass. All unique in their own way. Overall the store has 6500 sq/ft of walkable glass panels.
The first floor is cantilevered and goes from 3 feet to 6 inches. There are no pillars or chords to hold it in place. Five tuned mass dampers absorb the deflections and vibrations. Then there is a genius grove with ficus trees in the glass reinforced concrete planters. Inside they also have leather seating.
The video wall inside the store is 35 feet wide, and has 6K resolution. The wall is used to host “Today at Apple” sessions with Live Art demos by local artists, showcase of Photo Walks, Creative Sessions and live music.
The Wood tables and fixtures are Spessart Oak, chosen for the fine grain and strength. The store uses photo-voltaic panels that generate about 50kw of solar energy. Anyway the glass doors mean the store uses minimum power. The lighting has hundreds of thousands of LCDs reflected off a special fabric.
The original San Francisco store opened in 2004, and has welcomed more than 20 million customers. If original store had 100 employees, the new one has more than 350. Apple has 479 stores worldwide, but this one is truly unique even by Apple standards.
The company says similar concepts will be used in other parts of the world too, but each with a local twist.
The author attended WWDC on the invite of Apple, which paid for travel and accommodation.