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Apple updates plans for Union Square SF store, will preserve fountain

updated 07:27 pm EST, Wed December 4, 2013

Apple logo taken off glass front, new plaza planned, other changes made

A new Apple Store planned for the Union Square area of San Francisco has been in the planning stages for some time, but a new revision to the company's plans that specifically addresses some prior concerns may finally win approval. The iPhone maker submitted new renderings and a new 3D architectural model redesigning a planned plaza with a new water feature, preserving but moving (slightly) an existing fountain, and breaking up an originally monolithic steel wall along Stockton Street.

Architectural model of revised store design
Architectural model of revised store design

The revised plan also moves the iconic Apple logo from the two-story, all-glass front fa├žade to the steel Stockton side. The 20-foot-high wall also now has a small incursion in it and more detailed plans for lining that side with trees, benches and other beautification efforts. The area is currently occupied by a disused Levi's clothing store that will be demolished once Apple gets final approval, as well as a Grand Hyatt hotel.

A rear plaza intended for the back of the store will now add a waterfall feature in addition to a pre-existing fountain originally designed by San Fransisco artist Ruth Asawa (who died earlier this year). The fountain and its placement inadvertently became a major sticking point in negotiations with the city, as Apple had originally intended to remove it entirely (Asawa's fountain designs are found throughout the city), but the government and residents objected to the idea.

The fountain will now be near the entrance of the rear plaza, requiring that it be moved a few feet from its current location. It was originally built in 1973 by Asawa as a commission from the Union Square Hyatt (seen in the gallery, below).

Renderings of the plaza (seen below) envision a cafe-like seating area that would mostly be in shade, and decorated with trees and other flora alongside the water features. The revisions signal that Apple is moving closer to approval on the store, and 9to5Mac reports that a press conference with the city is being planned, presumably to announce acceptance of Apple's latest design.

The Union Square store, once approved, will become the new home of the flagship downtown location, replacing the current store further down on Stockton street. Apple has presumably already obtained permission and approval from the Hyatt owners for the rear-area redevelopment, since at least a portion of the plaza area and the fountain itself belongs to the hotel.

by MacNN Staff





  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 10-03-99

    what's wrong with having your logo in front of your store? do they want free wi-fi with that? Cities' demands against apple are ridiculous.. just take the "spaceship", which is 1000 times better than what's currently there. The city makes all kinds of ridiculous demands instead of be thankful of what Apple does for the environment..

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    FireWire: there's no indication that I can find (other than a broad request early on to make the Stockton-side steel wall less monolithic) that the city was the one who "demanded" that Apple move the logo. I believe that was actually Apple's idea, given that there will be plenty of other signage to let people know who are approaching the store from the square or elsewhere on Post that this is an Apple Store. :)

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Correct -- every change mentioned in the article was proposed by Apple (and/or their architectural firm). The city did not tell Apple to move the fountain, put the logo on the side, and put a gap in the side wall -- those were all Apple's ideas to mitigate the original complaints.

    As I recall, the original complaints were that the fountain in back shouldn't be removed (so Apple said they'll keep and move it), the side wall is a bit monolithic and stark (so Apple put an architectural gap as well as their logo to give more visual breakup), and the street lining the store couldn't be bare (so Apple put in some trees).

    The city is being approving or disapproving of Apple's ideas, but they're all Apple's ideas. We just have to wait out umpteen rounds of, "Ok, city, howabout this design? Don't like the big wall, huh? Ok, howabout THIS design?"

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    I hope Apple doesn't mess up the fountain when they slightly move it. That water fountain is like the Statue of Liberty for that particular area. The waterfall is a nice touch. Don't know if it's too overwhelming comparing to the water fountain.

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-05-06

    As noted by others above, the ity gave Apple some guidelines to meet, and Apple came up with the changes. For all the whining from people (including here) about the city daring to ask Apple to make changes, the new design is much better than the original one. The courtyard is nicer by far, as is the wall on Stockton, with the break in it, the Apple logo, and the trees.

    I guess it's not the end of the world after all.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Yeah, I'm having trouble seeing what the problem is. The city wants to make the area look nicer, and they only get the chance when an area is being re-developed. Apple didn't have a problem with the requested changes, and as elroth said, looks to me like a better design in the end (and I'll be Apple thinks so too).

  1. SergioRS

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 09-16-04

    I've lived in SF for almost 50 years, so believe me when I tell you that fountain is hideous in ways only something from the 70's can be hideous. They should have just made Apple pay to relocate it to the entrance of the Union Square subway station. Way more people could "appreciate" it there than will on a not particularly trafficked side street across from a parking garage.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    I have to agree -- the fountain is not something that's sending my artistic appreciation meter to its upper limits, but then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. With that being said, here you go -- behold:

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    Or one could easily ask, "what's wrong with a company making good faith attempts to address city and resident concerns, particularly in the design approval stage?"

    Nothing. The building is not required to be spherical, or levitated without support structures, or change it's shape and appearance on an hourly schedule. These changes Apple made were not abhorrent, unsightly, onerous, or "ridiculous". Good on ya, Apple.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Agreed -- they appeased the concerns of the city while still maintaining their iconic look and feel, and adding a bit more artistic flair to their engineering project.

    That being said, this is what any company would go through building just about anything just about anywhere. It's not specific or unique to Apple nor the city of San Francisco in any way. The Hyatt right next door, in all likelihood, went through a round or two of architectural submissions and modifications with the city before the deal was finalized and building commenced.

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