Work Begins To Replace Fifth Avenue Glass Cube

June 16, 2011

In a stunning development, an expensive construction project has begun at the Fifth Avenue (NYC) Apple store to completely remove the unique and iconic glass cube entrance to the store and to then reinstall it. Permits issued by the city’s Department of Buildings confirm the company will spend $6,661,050 to completely remove the glass and its sophisticated connection hardware, make upgrades to the surrounding plaza structure, and then “reinstall” the cube. The  permits don’t hint at why the cube is being replaced, either for safety reasons or to upgrade it to current technology. It’s also not clear if the original glass panels and the TriPyramid Structures Inc. hardware will be be replaced with new versions or simply reinstalled. Workers appeared on Wednesday evening and began erecting plywood walls around the central area of the plaza that surrounds the glass cube. In the coming days, workers will erect scaffolding to allow access to the 32-foot cube that was fabricated and assembled in late 2005 and early 2006 at a reported cost of $7 million. The design of the cube was trademarked last year to prevent anyone from copying the structure, and store lease documents indicate if Apple were to move, the company would take the cube with them. Building permits issued on June 13th state the work will also include removing protective bollards, installing new pavers around the cube’s perimeter, and removing and reinstalling surrounding water drains. According to the permits, the work could be finished by early November.

Download (pdf) the permit documents that describe the extent of work and the value of the project.

The central area in front of the GM Building (outside of bollard "dots" shown here) is now fenced off with a plywood wall to protect passersby during removal and replacement of the glass cube entrance.

The Fifth Avenue glass cube's unique and sophisticated design is trademarked to protect it from copycats.

The paint on the plywood barricade has been specially color-matched to the plaza stone to make it less conspicuous.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

A Genius June 16, 2011 at 0536

They are replacing the walls/roof with single panes of glasses. It’s going to be epic.

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Apple Turnover June 16, 2011 at 0714

Maybe they’ll used stained glass to make it look more like a church. That way the Apple worshippers will feel more at ease.

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MSM June 16, 2011 at 0808

I am sorry, but how is a glass cube “unique and sophisticated”?

I love the design but I don’t think it’s that unique…

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Marktrek June 20, 2011 at 1125

Okay, name another one.

There is a cube in New York, a pyramid in Paris, a cylinder in Shanghai, a glass whatever that is on the upper West side in New York, there will be a circle in Cuppertino, so what next? A sphere in Australia? A hexagon in Arlington, VA (the Pentagon is old hat.) A dodecagon on the campus of MIT? The mind boggles.

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Lester June 16, 2011 at 0830

Unibody construction.

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melgross June 16, 2011 at 0851

A problem with either the design or construction is that it leaks when the rain and wind are at a high level. So perhaps this is being corrected.

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AP_atLarge June 16, 2011 at 1057

Two words: Transparent Aluminum!

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aardman June 16, 2011 at 1915

Isn’t that sapphire?

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Fabian June 16, 2011 at 1211

Now we know what they need the often rumored liquid metal for :-P

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Phil Day June 16, 2011 at 1342

30″Cinema display panels!!
- in sync!!

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Nargg June 16, 2011 at 1359

If this isn’t enough proof that Apple is making WAY too much money.

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Jrgts June 16, 2011 at 1757

How are customers entering and exiting the building during construction?

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Bale June 17, 2011 at 2053

The building has a back entrance next to FAO Schwartz.

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James June 16, 2011 at 1808

5 panes of glass (one each side and top) would be EPIC and totally in line with Apple’s unibody style.

The Mac Cube lives!

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Gary June 16, 2011 at 1945

The Pudong (Shanghai) store is composed of 40-foot long sections of glass that are 40-feet by 8-1/2 feet, all fabricated in China. So in theory, the current 72 or so side panels in the Fifth Avenue cube could be replaced with just 16 panels of new manufacture. There have been many architectural glass tech advancements in the six years since the cube was designed and manufactured. Now’s a good time to do a change-out (and improve the weather-proofing at the same time).

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cwfrederick June 16, 2011 at 2113

study architecture

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cwfrederick June 16, 2011 at 2114

in reply to MSM

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cwfrederick June 16, 2011 at 2121

interesting that in his presentation to the Cupertino city council, Steve said Apple has learned to build ‘the biggest panes of glass that can be used in a building’ (paraphrase). hmmm..

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James June 16, 2011 at 2133

Yep, Steve is behind this. He’s a true minimalist. Clearly they’re going to reduce the number of glass panes. Maybe not down to 5 but we can only hope.

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peter June 16, 2011 at 2357

ooh wow giant tv screens ..that would be amazing

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ptmmac June 17, 2011 at 0629

If you look at the volume of business that this store carries you would know that this is not the outlandish expense that it appears to be. As a percentage of sales over a 7 year time frame you would see that this is less than .25% of sales at this store alone. The number I used were backed up by this websites estimate of 2009 sales (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/apple/report-apples-fifth-avenue-store-tops-350m-in-annual-revenue-updated/4752). Conservatively, apple sells at least $400 million a year by now. 7 years/7x$400 is .25% of product sales. This storefront serves as an enormous billboard that drives sales through out the northeast region. Thus, this expenditure is really not only reasonable, but an extremely efficient use of shareholder funds. As an Apple shareholder for 4 years. I and my roth IRA would like to thank Apple’s management for their judicious use of our mutual assets. :-)

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Bale June 19, 2011 at 0619

Just came from the Fifth Avenue store. The cube is now entirely full of scaffolding. O.O

http://i.imgur.com/qwPGp.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/qKgmL.jpg

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LD June 22, 2011 at 0652

Replica of the Apple space ship.

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ROYI June 25, 2011 at 0822

Hey guys!
i have a question, i will be in NYC at 18 July i will not see the cube or even enter to the store?!!
:( :( :( :( :(

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Tony June 26, 2011 at 1857

Apple is building their brand. The uniquely designed stores are becoming landmarks in each location. They get crazy press because of the design and tourists (and architecture students/fans) seek out the stores to take pictures. Sure, the iPhone & iPad have been huge, but the retail store designs have been an enormous part of Apple’s recent success.

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