Heritage Building Will Host New Australia Store

April 29, 2011

Two trademarks of Apple retail are in play for Australia’s next retail store—secrecy and the expensive renovation of an historic building. The company submitted nearly 200 pages of detailed documents to the Brisbane Planning and Development office last week asking to locate a store in the basement, ground floor and mezzanine of the MacArthur Chambers building along Queen Street in city center. Typically, the company’s name is mentioned nowhere in the documents, but architectural drawings clearly show traditional Apple store elements, including display tables, a Genius Bar with stools and the kids area. Also typically, Apple is spending $US11.4 million to fully renovate the building, removing non-original elements that were added in 1980 and 2001, and bringing the space back to its original 1934 appearance. The building plans were first reported on by MacTalk.au Web site, locating the store inside 233-255 Queen Street, a seven-story building later named for General Douglas MacArthur, who headquartered there for two years during World War II. Based on the necessary permit review process and extensive renovation, the store will open some time in 2012.

training tables under stone arches

The submitted documents include an ordinary application, a detailed construction plan, floorplans, a discussion of the building’s heritage, and a document that details the buildings “fabric,” or interior details. All of the documents stress the building’s historic significance and how Apple proposal will retain, and even improve upon, the original architecture.

According to Apple’s plans, the basement back-of-house space will cover 8,200 square-feet. The public retail space will occupy the ground-floor (9,500 square-feet) and mezzanine (3,175 square-feet) for an overall total of about 20,889 square-feet. The upper six floors are occupied by serviced apartments and have a separate entrance. The apartments aren’t affected by Apple’s retail plans.

“The proposal seeks to retain all of the early fabric and spaces,” Apple’s documents state, “as well as reconstruct significant building elements…(including) the original detailing of the mezzanine, the glazed doors to Queen Street entry, timber paneling to columns and plaster ceilings to their original detailing.” The proposed lighting and color scheme will complement the finished design, the company says.

The granite and sandstone building sits on a prominent corner and used to house a bank and later a bookstore. Many other international retailers are on adjacent streets and along a pedestrian mall. The MacArthur Central shopping complex is nearby. The city has focused attention on the surrounding area and is hoping to stimulate new businesses installing new stores.

The architecture is considered “interwar commercial palazzo style,” according to heritage documents submitted by Apple. In fact, an architectural consultant wrote, it’s one of the best examples of that style in the city. “Its lavish and decorative use of materials, particularly on the facades, its interior detailing, and its presence on a major intersection in the city highlight the design and emphasis (sic) the architectural merit of the building.”

The building features a Doric colonnade, stone stauary and timber floors, with all materials obtained from sources in Queensland. Bronze doorways are set under stone arches, and interior balustrades inside are also made of bronze.

Inside, the space will be voluminous, with tall ceilings and impressive sightlines. Much like the Opéra (Paris) store, the mezzanine will offer an impressive view of the ground floor, lit by tall windows on two sides.

Download Apple’s documents for much more detail, all in Acrobat (pdf) format:


The view of the storefront resembles several other heritage Apple stores, including George Street, Covent Garden and Opéra. The square box over the double doors depicts where "internally illuminated store signage" will be located, according to the permit application.

This floorplan accompanies plans submitted by an anonymous retailer, and the layout indicates that company is Apple—Genius Bar upper-right, training tables (right), product display tables (left).

The mezzanine plan shows the new stairs (top-center) that will be installed connecting it to the ground floor, along with display tables and wall-mounted product shelving.

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