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Apple Store Fifth Avenue, Foster + Partners

Tech landmark: Apple Store Fifth Avenue by Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners have thoroughly remade the public plaza in front of the General Motors Building at the southern end of Central Park, with trees, fountains and stone benches now inviting passers-by to linger and relax around the popular attraction in the heart of Manhattan. Eighteen mirrored 'sky lenses' arranged in a grid and reflecting the surrounding skyscrapers are a particular highlight. Designed to be sat on, they incorporate a double-layered structure for regulating heat and cold and can thus be used at any time of year. The elements also admit natural light into the store below, joining with 62 skylights and high ceilings in creating a friendly ambience in the interior.

Even the modernisation measures, the Apple glass cube, which acts as the entrance to the underground store on Fifth Avenue, remains the focus of the urban plaza. Foster + Partners have placed a mirrored cylinder containing the elevator and encircled by the silver-reflecting stainless steel steps of a spiral staircase at the cube's centre. Glass parapets enclose the sophisticated entry structure, which takes visitors down into the entrance hall and from there directly into the open sales and display areas.

There is little in the interior of the Apple flagship store to suggest it is actually below ground, Foster + Partners having modernised the subterranean room completely in line with the tech behemoth's style. Around the skylights the ceiling billows outwards like clouds, and indirect and focus lighting draws attention to the products, creating – along with the leafy plants –a pleasant atmosphere. Surfaces are mainly in natural hues and are rounded off by wooden tables and paneling as well as a simple stone floor into which a ventilation system is integrated.

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