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  • Apple has a reputation of building some of the coolest, most futuristic retail stores

  • in the world. This location in Dubai features carbon fiber Solar Wings that automatically

  • open and close to cool down the space. This store in Milan features a stunning water fountain

  • display that welcomes visitors as they enter. And one of my favorite locations is this one

  • in Shanghai which utilizes patented curved glass panels to achieve its unique cylindrical

  • shape. But the most iconic Apple Store in the world is in New York City on Fifth Avenue.

  • Sitting just a few steps from central park, it’s likely one of the highest traffic stores

  • in the country. And you can get an understanding of just how important this store is to Apple

  • by considering its history. Which is exactly what were going to cover. This is Greg

  • with Apple Explained, and if you want to help decide which topics I cover, make sure youre

  • subscribed, and these voting polls will show up in your mobile activity feed.

  • Now let’s start off by exploring where the concept of a glass cube-shaped Apple Store

  • came from in the first place. It turns out Jobs always had the idea in the back of his

  • head, but he wasn’t sure where the flagship store should be located. That is, until Jobs

  • met with Harry Macklowe, a New York City real estate developer. Macklowe had recently purchased

  • the most expensive office building in North America at the time. The General Motors building

  • in Manhattan, which cost him 1.4 billion dollars. But there was one problem with the property

  • that discouraged many other developers from investing. And that was the plaza that sat

  • directly in front of the building. There were a couple issues with this space. First, it

  • was considered by most architects to be too large for a simple plaza, but too small to

  • place another skyscraper. Second, it contained a basement that was never even used. This

  • was due to the plaza being sunken when it was first built, but subsequently raised after

  • the area failed to attract many pedestrians.

  • So Macklowe had a problem on his hands. How could this awkward, aging plaza be transformed

  • into a modern shopping area? Well, he had one company in mind that could offer a solution,

  • and that was Apple. Because not only had they made an aggressive and successful entrance

  • into the retail market two years earlier, but Apple’s retail stores served as stylish,

  • modern spaces which housed some of the coolest tech products in the world. So convincing

  • Apple to build their flagship store on the GM plaza became Macklowe’s top priority.

  • He started by contacting George Blankenship, Apple’s vice-president of real estate, to

  • try and set up a meeting with Jobs. He was successful, and quickly flew out to Cupertino

  • to discuss what would become one of the most iconic retail stores in the world. Macklowe

  • brought with him his longtime design partner Dan Shannon and the architects from the firm

  • Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, who designed the Apple Store in Soho.

  • This meeting is where Jobs shared his idea for store’s glass cube design, complete

  • with a model of the GM building, Apple store, and plaza to clearly demonstrate his vision

  • for the space. Macklowe immediately loved the idea, especially since it made perfect

  • use of the challenging space. Not only could a glass cube be perfectly proportioned for

  • the plaza’s size, but Apple’s retail space would actually be located underground. Finally

  • making use of the location’s awkward basement area which had been empty for almost a decade.

  • But Macklowe recognized an issue Steve Job’s design right away. The glass cube was simply

  • too big. Jobs wanted a 40 foot cube. Which would not only obscure the GM building, but

  • invite protest from tenants and cause zoning issues with the city. But Macklowe knew he

  • couldn’t break this news to Jobs himself, since it would likely fall on deaf ears. So

  • instead, Macklowe helped Jobs discover this issue himself. He did this by constructing

  • a scaffolding mockup of the cube to give Apple an idea of its scale, and once their retail

  • executives saw the mockup in person, they agreed that it should be smaller.

  • Now it’s important to note just how involved Steve Jobs was in every step of the store’s

  • development. He helped decided what type of stone would be used for the plaza and ordered

  • workers to replace the metal bolts holding together the glass panels. Jobs was so excited

  • about the store that he built a mockup of his own in the parking lot of Apple’s headquarters.

  • He was so involved in the project that he eventually developed a friendship with Macklowe,

  • who offered Jobs an office in the GM building. But Jobs refused, saying, “When I come to

  • New York, I want to be in Soho. I want to be in Chelsea. I want to be surrounded by

  • young people. So I can listen to what theyre thinking. I want to have new ideas.”

  • On May 19, 2006 the 32 foot glass cube on fifth avenue was unveiled to the public. It

  • featured an illuminated white, floating Apple logo and a glass staircase spiraling around

  • a cylindrical glass elevator. Not only did this liberal use of glass make the store look

  • good and feel more spacious, but it served a functional purpose as well, by allowing

  • sunlight to shine down into the store. Apple’s retail executive Ron Johnson explained the

  • concept well, saying, “the glass cube was designed to let in light and ambiance throughout

  • the day. When I’m under here canopied by the cube I feel like I’m in a public space.”

  • And that concept is important to remember since it helped inform all of the store’s

  • subsequent updates. It’s also important to point out that when Apple opened this fifth

  • avenue location, they’d only been in retail for five years and hadn’t yet opened a flagship

  • store. So neither Apple nor Macklowe had an accurate frame of reference to predict how

  • the store would perform. They simply had to measure the earnings of surrounding stores

  • while drawing up a business deal. Part of that deal was deciding what percentage of

  • their sales Apple would pay to Macklowe, the property owner. And as it would turn out,

  • Apple made out like bandits since their fifth avenue store performance was unprecedented.

  • Although Apple and Macklowe had high hopes, all of their expectations were shattered when

  • the numbers came in for the store’s first year.

  • It ended up attracting 50,000 visitors a day, which totaled 18.2 million people. Making

  • the store Apple’s most popular in the world at the time. But what about revenue? Because

  • making money is what retail’s about after all. Well, the fifth avenue Apple store alone

  • ended up bringing in an average of one million dollars each day. And that’s after Apple

  • paid rent and a percentage of the stores profits to Macklowe. But it’s also important to

  • consider the store’s social impacts. Not only did this transformation of the GM building

  • make the property look more appealing and drive higher foot traffic, but it also attracted

  • more high end luxury stores looking to replicate the kind of success Apple had.

  • So the fifth avenue Apple store wasn’t only a wild success for Apple, but also the property

  • owner and the neighborhood that surrounded it. But the truth is, this was only the beginning.

  • Since Apple would revamp their fifth avenue store multiple times in the following years.

  • The first update came in 2011, when Apple spent 6.6 million dollars to rebuild the glass

  • cube using just 15 panes of glass instead of 90. But that was seemingly insignificant

  • compared to the major renovations Apple began making to the store six years later in 2017.

  • This time they actually opened a temporary location for the fifth avenue store just steps

  • away from the original. And that was in large part due to great timing. The FAO Shwarz toy

  • store located in the GM building behind the Apple Store actually vacated the property

  • due to high rent just in time for Apple’s renovation project. So Apple was able to simply

  • buy the location and continue offering their products and services without much disruption

  • to customers. And this was important, since the 2017 fifth avenue project was much more

  • involved and complex than in 2011.

  • No one knew at the time what Apple had in store for the location. They didn’t even

  • reveal how long the project would last. But it turned out that the fifth avenue renovation

  • would take over two years to finally complete. And it was time well spent, because the improvements

  • made to the store were absolutely stunning. I actually went on a road trip with my younger

  • brother to see this store for myself the day it opened, and it really was an unforgettable

  • experience. Not only was Tim Cook and Deirdre O’Brian there to commemorate the occasion,

  • but people from across the world stopped by to see the store in person.

  • But first let’s talk about what makes this remodeled store so special. As I mentioned

  • earlier in the video, Apple’s always wanted this store to feel open, spacious, and bright.

  • Which is especially important since the store is underground. And they were able to achieve

  • this in a few ways. First, there are portholes in the ceiling that not only let in much more

  • natural light than before, but feature integrated LED lights that automatically shift their

  • color temperature to match the natural light. That way cooler natural light won’t clash

  • with warmer artificial light. But what’s even cooler are what the portholes look like

  • outside the store. They carpet the plaza and give it a futuristic glow, while also doubling

  • as chrome benches for people to sit and perhaps even peak inside. And instead of stairs and

  • an elevator made of glass, Apple instead opted for chrome. Which I was told helps reflect

  • the greenery, which there’s quite a bit of. Not only are there trees in the middle

  • of the store, but there are also these walls of greenery around the perimeter where visitors

  • can sit and charge their devices.

  • But something I found very interesting was the addition this HomePod room, which gave

  • visitors a chance to experience stereo sound feature, which I admit was quite impressive.

  • Another cool touch were the photos that lined the hallway to the backroom and bathrooms.

  • They featured the old store, the construction process, and the new store. It’s also worth

  • noting that the remodeled fifth avenue store is twice as big and has higher ceilings which

  • is important since the number of visitors to this location has only been growing. So

  • the fifth avenue Apple Store continues to be one of the company’s most impressive

  • locations, and I highly encourage anyone in the area to visit and check it out for themselves.

  • Alright guys thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.

Apple has a reputation of building some of the coolest, most futuristic retail stores

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History of the Fifth Avenue Apple Store

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/02
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