Apple Prepping Retail Store 2.0?

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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.


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It would make sense for Apple to begin transitioning to a new store layout. They have invested lots of time and money pushing their brick-and-mortar stores, and have obviously stayed ahead of the competition (notably MS) in terms of product presentation and consumer appeal.

To what end are they switching things up? Likely to where they evolve the concept of having an open communal environment that merges tech with simplicity, to where an Apple product is in touch with what is natural; the zen of Apple.


If you’re the plan-o-gram manager, change is necessary to keep your job!

John Dingler

No no; The change must be more than for mere job security. It’s about evolution toward the better, more elevated experience. You must see the trend, at least linearly, from a typical general store with shelves of products, then to boutiques, on to Apple Store I, Apple Store II (Manhattan), and now to an environmentally comprehensive retail space experience as mentioned in this article.

I would love to attend Mass and worship inside this sort of environment. And this reminds me of a similar method employed by the Catholic Church during the Counter-Reformation, where the structure was made to appeal to the senses and emotion via color, shape, variety of objects and materials, pageantry, and enhanced story telling, this, in order to bring back and retain the fold from the Protestant Reformation. This style is known as Baroque. The Byzantine had the same goal with direct experience but with less realism. It’s a shame that Catholic churches have stopped evolving beyond the Baroque in terms of the over-all experience.

I understand the rumored new design in this context.


If you?re the plan-o-gram manager, change is necessary to keep your job!

Unfortunately I’ve seen that all too often. If there is to be a change it must improve the consumer experience. I’ve seen many stores go to a new layout, rearrange the same products and then are shocked when it does not help sales. In some cases it actually hurt sales because there was nothing compelling to bring new people in and old (and oldER) customers got pissed because they couldn’t find things.

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