Apple Michigan Avenue, a first in the tech giant’s reimagining of its premiere store locations, opens on Friday along Chicago’s riverfront. A preview on Thursday showed off some of the architectural details and showcased yet again how the company’s attention to product design and detail can be extended to brick-and-mortar retail.
The structure, which connects North Michigan Avenue and Pioneer Court with the Chicago River, was three years in the making, according to a report in Crain’s Chicago Business, which put the construction price tag at more than $80 million.
The two-story, 25,000-square-foot store is meant to showcase the river and connect pedestrians to it by minimizing the boundary between the city and the water, Apple said. “A 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.” Granite staircases run on either side of the transparent store.
Apple said that its previous location on North Michigan Avenue, which opened in 2003 as the company’s first flagship store, welcomed more than 23 million visitors over its 14 years. The number of employees has grown from 58 to 250.
The new store, which opens at 5 p.m. on Friday, will launch “The Chicago Series” on Monday, a set of five programs “each with a different area of focus at the intersection of technology and liberal arts” such as photography and app design.