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Foster + Partners' Chicago Apple Store cascades down to meet the river


Inspired by ’the pulse of Chicago’s artistic energy’, Apple has created a platform for performance as part of a new Apple Store

Located at the intersection of the Chicago River and North Michigan Avenue’s ‘Magnificent Mile’, Apple Michigan Avenue cascades down from Pioneer Court to connect the city and the river.

The project is the result of a close collaboration between the design team at Apple led by chief design officer Jonathan Ive and Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Retail and Online Stores and Foster + Partners.

Ive said: ‘Apple Michigan Avenue is about removing boundaries between inside and outside, reviving important urban connections within the city. 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.’

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Pioneer Court is an urban plaza and the spot where Point de Sable – the founding father of Chicago – first lived and worked. Apple Michigan Avenue sits atop a wide new public stair, created to lead down from the plaza to the river. The gentle descent of levels creates active spaces where people can connect, create, and experience the city and river together.

The stairway transitions seamlessly between the outside and inside. It passes through the building’s walls – dematerialised to pure glass – and connects to the store’s buzzing centre, sheltered by an impossibly thin carbon-fibre roof, supported on slender stainless-steel columns. As the interior steps down to the river, it acts as a seating space around the Forum – the hub of the Today at Apple events programme and a live source of creativity, education and entertainment.

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Ground floor plan

Architect’s view

We fundamentally believe in great urban life, creating new gathering places, and connecting people in an analogue way within an increasingly digital world. The design of Apple Michigan Avenue embodies this in its structure and materiality, with a glass wall that dissolves into the background, revealing the only visible element of the building: its floating carbon-fibre roof.

Stefan Behling, head of studio, Foster + Partners 


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