Apple Store, Union Square

Apple Store, Union Square

Offices, Shops and Showrooms
SF, United States - Build completed in 2016
AppleApple Union Square Highlights New Design Elements, Community Programs

story by Apple

Apple Union Square Highlights New Design Elements, Community Programs
Apple Union Square Highlights New Design Elements, Community Programs
Apple as Client
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Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

Apple Store, Union Square

Foster + Partners as Architects

The opening of Apple Union Square in San Francisco marks an important step in Apple’s continuous evolution, its purpose and its role in the local community to bring a richer experience beyond opportunistic retail. Its innovative design enables new levels of transparency, openness and civic generosity, incorporating Apple’s new features and services. Apple Union Square will be a model for future projects worldwide. The design is the result of a close collaboration between Apple’s teams led by Jonathan Ive, chief design officer and Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Retail and Online Stores and Foster + Partners. “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. “It is possible to experience Apple's extraordinary products and services while taking in the buzzing Union Square on one side and relaxing in the contemplative quiet of the new plaza on the other.” Located on San Francisco’s famous and vibrant Union Square, the building’s vast glass sliding doors allow the store to connect the existing square to a new plaza to the north, creating unprecedented urban permeability. As a foil to the lively activities of Union Square, the new art-filled plaza, featuring public Wi-Fi, is imagined as a tranquil garden of contemplation with tables and seating, creating a beautiful gathering place for the community. 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. A canopy of shading trees and a 65 foot (19.8 meters) by 50 foot (15.2 meters) ‘green wall’ planted with Ficus Repens (Creeping Fig) plants, bisected by a sheer waterfall at the western end of the plaza, creates a contrasting backdrop to the fountain. Taking advantage of San Francisco’s moderate climate, the steel framed glass sliding doors, measuring 20.5 foot (6 meters) by 42 foot (12.8 meters) on the south side and 20.5 foot (6 meters) by 26.5 foot (8 meters) to the north, encourage natural ventilation throughout the store. Fresh air is drawn through the integrated structural spine before being expelled out through the roof. The store is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, including power produced by 130 photovoltaic panels integrated into the building’s roof. 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 – an appearance of effortless simplicity, which belies the complexity of the engineering solution. 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. Vertical bracing is neatly tucked away inside the spine and side-walls. 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 dramatic cantilevered mezzanine floor which tapers to less than 1 foot (30 centimetres) and extends 32 feet (10 meters) from the rear wall to create a 16 foot-high (4.9 meters) piano nobile. 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, which appears as an opaque surface during the day, surprises visitors as it gradually turns on and dramatically 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. 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. To the rear of the Forum is 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.

Apple Union Square Highlights New Design Elements, Community Programs

Apple as Client

Apple® today revealed its new store on San Francisco’s Union Square, offering many new features and services rolling out to Apple retail stores worldwide. The new store will open its signature 42-foot tall sliding glass doors to customers on Saturday, May 21 at 10 a.m.


“Fifteen years ago today Apple opened its first two stores and we’re thrilled to mark the occasion with the opening of Apple Union Square in San Francisco,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail and Online Stores. “We are not just evolving our store design, but its purpose and greater role in the community as we educate and entertain visitors and serve our network of local entrepreneurs."


Apple Union Square’s glass doors open the store to Post Street and Union Square. 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. The art-filled plaza offers seating, public Wi-Fi, a 50-foot tall “green wall” and regular acoustic performances. The store is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, including power produced by photovoltaic panels integrated into the building’s roof.


"We have a deep commitment to the cities we work in, and are aware of the importance that architecture plays in the community,” said Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer. "It all starts with the storefront — taking transparency to a whole new level — where the building blends the inside and the outside, breaking down barriers and making it more egalitarian and accessible.”


Features in the new Apple Union Square design include: “The Avenue,” inspired by the window displays along a boulevard that dynamically change with the season. Avenue walls are interactive themed “windows” where Apple’s products and services come to life, from music, to creativity, apps, photography and more. New “Creative Pros,” Apple experts in creative arts, offer advice and expertise at each of the displays. Customers will also find “Only at Apple” products on the Avenue, a curated collection of third-party accessories. “Genius Grove” invites customers to get support working side-by-side with Geniuses under the comfortable canopy of local trees in the heart of the store. “The Forum” is a vibrant gathering place, centered around a 6K Video Wall. It is home to “Today at Apple,” which brings to the community the world’s most talented artists, photographers, musicians, gamers, developers and entrepreneurs to inspire and educate our customers to go further with the things they are passionate about. Today at Apple includes year-round programs for kids, new monthly events for teachers, sessions for current and aspiring developers, Creative Sessions in partnership with local experts in creative arts, Game Night with editors from Apple’s App Store® and more. The Forum and Video Wall are a place of discovery, including events about the making of movies from iTunes®, or exclusive premieres of new music and music videos from Apple Music™. “The Plaza” will be found only at Apple’s most significant stores, including Apple Union Square. It’s open to the public 24 hours a day, features public Wi-Fi and seating, and takes Today at Apple outside, with a regular weekend series of well known local acoustic performances such as Travis Hayes and global talents like Escondido, who will then give exclusive interviews about their craft in the Forum. The Plaza at Apple Union Square features a fountain by well-known San Francisco sculptor Ruth Asawa, originally commissioned in 1969, and a new work, “Love” by local artist Laura Kimpton, commissioned by Hyatt Hotels. “The Boardroom” is an intimate space where the store’s Business Team offers hands-on advice and training to entrepreneurs, developers and other small and medium business customers. Apple’s original San Francisco store opened on Stockton Street in 2004 with about 100 employees. Having welcomed more than 20 million visitors, and seen the launch of iPhone®, iPad®, MacBook Air®, Apple TV®, Apple Watch® and more, the team moving to Apple Union Square has grown to more than 350.


While the store offers regular learning experiences in the Forum and Plaza, Apple is also committed to furthering creative arts education throughout San Francisco. Apple is working with the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts to build a visual arts lab with 45 workstations outfitted with the latest Apple products.


Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

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