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Apple strudel

By November 7, 20113 Comments

A small post, updating the one we posted last year – Apple have just unveiled the revised glass cube on 5th Avenue, the world’s most prolific retail spot. The architecture, such as it is, has been reduced even further: from 90 panes of glass down to just 15, or so we are told.

As the old song goes, its funny the change, from major to minor… and here the change from minimal to really minimal, has polarised the commenters. Some people hate it – feel that it is all just TOOOO minimal, and others, like me, believe that it is a logical and practical move towards the reductionism inherent in Apple’s entire design philosophy. Of course, such design thinking doesn’t come cheap – we are told it has a $6.6million price tag, involves 25mm thick glass panes, and it was required that they build a new factory in China with the world’s longest annealing ovens in which to bake the glass. So – these are now officially the largest panes of glass in the world.

What is interesting to me, and no doubt to you as well, is that the jointing mechanisms have disappeared as well. In the previous rendition, of which a picture is here:

(old vs new)

the panes of glass are held together by small stainless steel patch panels, and bolted to structural glass fins, a structure of columns and beams that criss-crossed the cube. Joints, of course, were sealed with silicone. But in the new edition, it looks like there are beams under the roof, and nothing else besides. The glass IS the skin – the cube is (almost) exactly that – a glass cube of surface, with no visible supporting structure. Perhaps only Steve Jobs himself would have obsessed about that structure to such a degree – and at such cost: the project was certainly driven by him, according to the biography that I have just read.

(old vs new)

But what is the true cost, really? The fact that this formerly unusable void beneath a dated 70s forecourt, a space worth nothing beneath a fountain appreciated by no one, is now the most highly profitable piece of real estate on the entire planet, surely means that cost is of little consequence? Yes, even Tiffanys of New York makes less money per square foot of retail than does the Apple Store on 5th Avenue. This is not so much a retail enclosure as a temple to minimal gadgetry, and as such needs a reduction to maximal minimalism like no other space at all. I’m just bummed that I missed it’s re-opening by a week. Bother.

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