Foster + Partners introduce five new design features for flagship Apple store

Award winning British architects Foster + Partners have designed Apple’s new store in San Francisco which is now open on the city’s vibrant Union Square.

The store features five new design elements and will be a model for the technology giant’s future projects worldwide.

“This is an incredible site on Union Square and a chance to create a new public plaza. We have created the most inspiring and stimulating space imaginable, blurring the inside and outside”, said Stefan Behling, Architect, Foster + Partners.

The design was the result of a close collaboration between the architects and Apple’s teams led by chief design officer Jonathan Ive and Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Retail and Online Stores.

Signature glass doors

Taking advantage of San Francisco’s moderate climate, the store features steel-framed glass sliding doors which encourage natural ventilation – fresh air is drawn through the integrated structural spine before being expelled out through the roof.

Apple Union Square is also powered by 100 percent renewable energy, including power produced by 130 photovoltaic panels integrated into the building’s roof.

A new public plaza

To the north, a new public space features a garden with tables and seating. The famous Ruth Asawa fountain has been given a new setting on the steps leading down to Stockton Street and a canopy of shading trees and a ‘green wall’ bisected by a sheer waterfall creates a contrasting backdrop to the fountain.

Seismic engineering

The entire building is supported by a giant steel truss structure that bridges over the neighbouring hotel basement ballroom. Seismic engineering design principles guided every aspect of the structural design, setting the standard for innovation and performance. The generous 40 foot-high (12-meter) volume is divided horizontally by a cantilevered mezzanine floor to create a 16 foot-high (4.9 meters) piano nobile.

The slim column-free floor structure is made possible by tuned mass dampers to eliminate vibration.

Glass staircase

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 – an appearance of effortless simplicity, which belies the complexity of the engineering solution.

Luminous ceiling

The luminous white ceiling gradually turns on and illuminates 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 integrated grid that holds the ceiling panels in place has been designed so that all the services can be precisely located, while also making it flexible enough to accommodate any future technological advances.

Five new design features

The Apple Union Square introduces five new features.

  • ‘The Avenue’ is 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, will occupy a prime central position on the mezzanine against a vast video wall which will also act as an animated backdrop for Union Square beyond
  • 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
  • The unique design of the tree planters was a collaboration between Foster + Partners and Apple’s Industrial Design Studio
  • The ‘Boardroom’ – a place for meetings, conversations and partnerships for local entrepreneurs and enterprises is discreetly placed behind the green wall