Apple Prepping Retail Store 2.0?


Apple could be preparing to move its downtown Palo Alto, Calif. store to a larger space that would become “a new prototype for the company,” according to planning documents quoted by the San Jose Mercury News. The documents describe a completely transparent store façade at the ground level, with large interior skylights that will allow trees to grow inside.

Those documents were part of the proposal submitted to Palo Alto’s architectural review board, which voted 3-0 to approve the project at 340 University Ave., which has been vacant since a Z Gallerie furniture store left several months ago. The San Jose Mercury News cited several unnamed sources, as well as Palo Alto’s planning manager, Amy French, who said “that’s her understanding as well,” wrote reporter Will Oremus.

Another piece of evidence is the involvement of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the same architecture firm that designed the glass cube structure that’s the hallmark of Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City.

Apple declined to comment, of course, and Alexander Lew, the chair of Palo Alto’s architectural review board, described the design as “pretty unique” and admitted that “a lot of people have kind of guessed” who the building’s new tenant is. "The whole design is inside-outside, with everything completely exposed," Mr. Lew added. "With the huge skylight, there's going to be lots of daylight and it will feel more like an atrium inside. ... We're excited about the project."

Mr. Oremus quoted from the development proposal: “[The glass façade] dissolves the boundary that traditional store facades create. By not breaking the horizontal ground plane of the sidewalk with opaque wall or landscape element, for example, the street is made part of the store's interior; the pedestrian is in the store before entering it." Bicycle and newspaper racks, along with a trash can, will be removed to complete the visual effect.