updated 10:50 am EDT, Tue August 9, 2011
New look to use fewer panes, no reason given
[Update: added official rendering of new look] Apple has finally revealed what it intends to do with the glass cube over its Fifth Avenue store in New York City. A photo shows a new sign plastered on the barrier around the store, which is in place while the cube is being replaced. "We're simplifying the Fifth Avenue cube," the message reads. "By using larger, seamless pieces of glass, we're using just 15 panes instead of 90." A diagram shows that each side of the cube will have three vertically-aligned panes.
Still unclear is why Apple has decided to replace the cube. The original structure was only completed in 2006, and cost about $7 million at the time. The current renovations are expected to cost in excess of $6.6 million, almost doubling the money spent so far. Apple may have needed to overhaul the cube for maintenance purposes; perhaps more likely, however, is that the company wants to reinvigorate the store's image, since it is one of the most photographed places in Manhattan and a focal point for the media during Apple product launches.
2011 moreover marks the 10th anniversary of the Apple Store chain, for which the company may want a conspicuous symbol. Apple is in fact renovating or expanding a number of other outlets, and should have 26 more locations by the end of September.
Update: Apple has released an official rendered image of how the new cube will look.