Q: What are some of the details in the new store?
A: It was designed in partnership with Jony Ive and Foster + Partners — the same team that did Apple Park (in Cupertino, Calif.). We totally redid the entire plaza, putting stairs on the inside and outside. We’ve never done this before. The pavilion is totally glass, all the way around. From Michigan Avenue, you can see all the way through it to the river. The reason for all the stairs is that we wanted it to be so transparent, it looks like the pavilion becomes one with the plaza. We are the live version of Apple Music, we are the live version of that app store. There are tens of thousands of app developers in Chicago, they now have a place to come and show the city what they’ve done, even help teach the city.
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Apple today previewed Apple Michigan Avenue, its newest and most ambitious store, creating a new connection between North Michigan Avenue, Pioneer Court and the Chicago River. Intended as a gathering place for the local community, the store will host year-round Today at Apple programming, building on Chicago’s city-wide initiative to enliven the Riverwalk. To celebrate the opening, Apple Michigan Avenue will host “The Chicago Series,” a month-long set of events that will provide attendees with the tools to pursue their passions, from photography and music to coding and app design.
“When Apple opened on North Michigan Avenue in 2003, it was our first flagship store, and now we are back in Chicago opening the first in a new generation of Apple’s most significant worldwide retail locations,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail, in a statement. “Apple Michigan Avenue exemplifies our new vision where everyone is welcome to experience all of our incredible products, services and inspiring educational programs in the heart of their city. We can’t wait to welcome the community for opening weekend, and to launch ‘The Chicago Series’ with our incredible local partners on Monday.”
Chicago’s connection to its river runs deep and Apple Michigan Avenue adds new access to the riverfront from Pioneer Court. The two are now linked by granite staircases on both sides of the transparent store, opening up views from the plaza to the river and beyond. Apple worked closely with the City of Chicago and referenced historical records to develop a store design specifically for the site on which it sits.
“Apple Michigan Avenue is about removing boundaries between inside and outside, reviving important urban connections within the city,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, in a statement. “It unites a historic city plaza that had been cut off from the water, giving Chicago a dynamic new arena that flows effortlessly down to the river.”
Every design feature serves to minimize the boundary between the city and the Chicago River. Even the building’s 111-by-98 foot carbon-fiber roof was designed to be as thin as possible, and the entire structure is supported by four interior pillars that allow the 32-foot glass facades to remain unobscured.
Apple’s first location on North Michigan Avenue welcomed more than 23 million visitors since opening in 2003, and the number of employees has grown from 58 to 250 today. Across the Chicagoland area, Apple’s nine stores are home to 1,300 employees including new Creative Pros, the liberal arts equivalent of Apple’s technical Geniuses, who deliver free daily Today at Apple sessions.
On Monday, the store will launch the “The Chicago Series,” a set of five programs, each with a different area of focus at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, hosted over the course of four weeks. Each program is co-created with local non-profits and creative organizations, and focuses on a theme or project designed to make a positive impact in the community.
• Accelerate Your Startup Idea with 1871 inspires participants to develop a startup business concept that will positively impact the City of Chicago and provides them solutions to turn their idea into a business. The selected finalist will receive ongoing support from 1871, a non-profit digital startup incubator, and Apple.
• Participants in Create Collaborative Art will contribute to the creation of a new piece of work with local artist Theaster Gates and the Black Monks of Mississippi, a Chicago-based performance art ensemble.
• Prototype a Civic App with BLUE 1647 encourages everyone to learn how to conceive and design an app concept that serves community needs, rewarding the top app developer with ongoing mentorship from BLUE 1647, a local tech innovation center, and Apple.
• Photograph Chicago with VSCO teaches aspiring and established photographers how to capture the subtleties of neighborhoods and the people who live there. The best work will be featured at a future Today at Apple program in Chicago and on VSCO’s social media channels.
• Cultivate Your Voice with Young Chicago Authors leads participants on a journey of telling stories and defining their voice through poetry, graffiti and rap. Following this program, “The Chicago Series” will wrap with a slam poetry open mic night with Kevin Coval, a leading voice in Chicago’s music community.
“The Chicago Series” builds on the existing Today at Apple programming, which includes free daily sessions across photography, music creation, art and design, coding and entrepreneurship. This month, Apple will launch a dozen new Today at Apple sessions including Kid’s Hour: Book Club, Street-Style Photography and Teacher Tuesday: Coding with Swift. Today at Apple programming is available in all Apple Stores around the world.
Apple Michigan Avenue opens Friday, October 20 at 5 p.m. Registration for “The Chicago Series” and Today at Apple events is available at apple.com/today.
MacDailyNews Take: Congrats, Chicagoans!