Apple fans in Michigan Avenue, Chicago on Friday, Oct. 20, got to see the official opening of Apple's new flagship store, which some reports call "near-invisible." They're not wrong.
The company's new Michigan Avenue outpost does look invisible, or perhaps more accurately, boundless. The striking design lends itself to the surroundings, making it look less of a towering monolith and more of a sophisticated glass tent that popped up suddenly.
Apple Michigan Avenue
Apple CEO Tim Cook was there, seen in his Twitter post welcoming a crowd of bystanders in front of the newly minted Apple Store, all of whom look eager to to come in and find out what the new flagship store looks and smells like. Cameras littered the area just outside, and an unnamed fan appears to have approached Cook for a selfie.
My kind of town, Chicago is My kind of people, too. Thank you, Chicago, for welcoming us to the Riverwalk! pic.twitter.com/6WhORpMdR5
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) Oct. 20, 2017
"Apple Michigan Avenue is about removing boundaries between inside and outside, reviving important urban connections within the city," Apple Design chief Jony Ive said in a statement, as Fortune reports. "It unites a historic city plaza that had been cut off from the water, giving Chicago a dynamic new arena that flows effortlessly down to the river."
Indeed. The near-invisible Apple Michigan Avenue store has tall glass windows for walls, a surreal and sun-lit spot right inside riverfront. The roof is also something of a jaw-dropping affair: a 111 x 98 foot flat carbon fiber panel that was designed to be as "thin as possible." The store, consisting sits on top of a flight of stairs that used to be a food court. There, it gives the illusion that it's part of the environment as opposed to removed from it.
To design the store, Apple collaborated closely with the city of Chicago. The results are quite astonishing. The physical elements inside the store's main area — product shelves and displays, for instance — are recessed, hiding them from view. Because of this, the store looks like a giant display case in a museum to outsiders, instead of a busy retail brick-and-mortar location.
Apple Town Squares
It also lines up nicely with Apple's revamped vision for its physical stores, calling them "town squares" where people can meet, connect, and share meaningful relationships. While it has received criticism for this change, Apple seems intent on making its stores communal locations as opposed to the traditional functions of a retail space.
"Some stores are for selling — actually almost all stores are for selling," said Cook. "Our stores are about service, supporting customers, being a place where customers can discover and explore our products, and education. And connecting. A place where people can connect."
Thoughts about the Apple Michigan Avenue store? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!