New Apple store that resembles a laptop wouldn’t be the first building to hawk a product – Chicago Tribune
Inspired by a report that an Apple logo appeared atop the company’s under-construction North Michigan Avenue store, making it resemble a giant laptop, I did what any digital-age architecture critic would do: I sent out a crowd-sourcing tweet asking for other examples of this irresistible phenomenon: small product becomes big building.
On Twitter, they came pouring in.
•The Capitol Records building in Los Angeles— “looks like an old fashioned turntable spindle with records on it,” one respondent wrote.
•The BMW headquarters in Munich, whose exterior mimics the shape of a four-cylinder car engine.
•Furnitureland South in High Point, N.C., which bills itself as the world’s largest furniture store. Its main entrance, slapped onto the building’s front, is a giant highboy.
•The Donut Hole in La Puente, Ca., a drive-through bakery shaped like two giant donuts.
•And, of course, the Longaberger “basket building” in Newark, Ohio. This former headquarters of a basket-making company looks like an enormous wood basket, complete with the handles.
Never mind that function is often contorted to fit the eye-grabbing form of such buildings. Or that the designs tend to be “one-liners,” whose bizarre shapes shout the equivalent of one loud cry and then have nothing else to say.
There’s something wickedly funny — and fiendishly clever — about these buildings. They’re architecture as advertising, go-down-easy eye candy that sticks in the brain. They belong to a subgenre that’s especially evident in roadside buildings, which must make an instant impression as the car and its potential customer flashes by. Pop-up stores, like the Adidas outlets that resemble a giant shoebox, also fit the trend.
The architects who designed these buildings don’t follow the minimalist credo of “less is more.” To them, as the Philadelphia architect Robert Venturi once said, less is a bore.
So what’s happening — or, rather, what happened — at the still-in-progress Apple store, which is being built alongside the Chicago River at 401 N. Michigan Ave., came as a surprise.
The store’s architects, London-based Foster + Partners, are no commercial hacks. The firm’s namesake, Lord Norman Foster, is a winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the field’s highest honor. Foster + Partners typically turns out cool, environmentally-efficient buildings, including the almost-complete, ring-shaped Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Ca..
They are as sleek, well, as an Apple laptop.
When the design for the riverfront Apple store was released two years ago, there was no indication it would be topped by the ubiquitous Apple logo. Only in March, when a Tribune business reporter toured the under-construction store, was it revealed that the roof would have an Apple logo on top.
We in Chicago are getting our share of architectural surprises, aren’t we? (I have in mind a certain humongous sign placed on a very tall skyscraper, five years after the building opened, by a certain real estate developer and reality TV star who now occupies the White House.)
As David Matthews of the dnainfo.com news site reported, construction workers on Thursday put the Apple logo on the roof of the Apple store.
“Combine the new logo with the store’s curved metallic roof, and the site starts to resemble a Macbook,” the sharp-eyed Matthews wrote.
But less than an hour after the logo went on the roof, he reported, the workers took it off.
A test run?
A publicity stunt?
In an email Friday night, Apple spokesman Nick Leahy said: “Yesterday’s test of a paper cutout logo on the roof of our new store in Chicago was intended to assess possible color, size and placement.” Downtown alderman Brendan Reilly, in whose ward the Apple store is located, could not be reached. A spokesman for Patricia A. Scudiero, the city’s zoning administrator, did not have any immediate comment.
In the past, Apple has declined to say when the 20,000-square-foot store will open. The company has occupied its existing Chicago flagship, a converted four-story building at 679 N. Michigan, since 2003.
In the meantime, we are left to wonder when the logo might reappear — and what other ways the building’s architecture might serve as a merchandising vehicle.
“Does the roof flip up on sunny days?” tweeted Edwin Heathcote, the architecture critic of the Financial Times.