updated 10:00 am EDT, Wed August 17, 2011
May signal future of Apple retail design
Apple is hoping to build a Third Street Promenade store in Santa Monica, California constructed with an all-glass roof, a building proposal reveals. The project is expected to go in front of the Santa Monica Planning Commission tonight, and immediately tips itself as an Apple Store thanks to images depicting typical Apple design choices, including table layout and the structure of the glass panels. While the applicant is listed as "ASB/Blatteis Promenade Holdings," and no retailer is mentioned, this is consistent with Apple's usual policy of trying to conceal its retail plans before a store is announced.
Architecturally the proposal images most closely evoke Apple's Upper West Side store in New York City. "The proposed one-story, 34-foot high commercial building will feature an expansive floor-to-ceiling height accentuated by a transparent glass ceiling," a Planning Commission report states. "The front fašade will consist entirely of transparent glass panels that will project five feet from stone paneled side walls."
The report also suggests that Apple is interested in promoting an environmentally-friendly image. "The applicant will offer all full-time retail employees a $100 monthly transit subsidy towards the purchase of transit fare and a $20 per month bicycle reimbursement subsidy for improvements, maintenance, and service. In addition, secure bicycle parking for employees of the building will be located in the basement level."
The proposal suggests that Apple is making glass an even more prominent feature of its retail outlets. While many Apple Stores have glass facades, only in the past couple of years has the company branched out into glass roofs beyond the one used at its Fifth Avenue cube in Manhattan. The Upper West Side outlet, in fact, was Apple's first to put glass over top of a main showroom area.