Portland Design Commission OKs Apple Store Design

July 20, 2012

Despite initial objections by several Portland (Ore.) Design Commission members to a block-wide, all-glass storefront proposed for an Apple store in that city, on Thursday the group approved the design on a 5-1 vote, sending the plans on to other city agencies for final approval. The approval had been expected by industry watchers, since few cities can afford to decline both the amazing architecture and revenue generation that an Apple store creates. The store’s size, design, materials and location are nearly epic, and will make it among the chain’s most distinctive, as well as a city landmark. The commission first considered the proposal last March, and several members had pointed questions for representatives from Apple’s architectural team Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. The plan calls for the partial demolition of a building along S.W. Yamhill Street between S.W. 4th and 5th Streets. In its place will arise a glass box topped by a thin, near-floating roof. Behind the glass box will be a 30-foot tall stone wall. Some commission members felt the design didn’t fit into the downtown’s existing architecture, while others were unhappy with the design of a plaza and stone stairs in front of the store. Commissioner David Wark raised the most objections during the March meeting and, as first reported by the Oregonian, he cast the only “No” vote at Thursday’s meeting. At the earlier meeting Apple’s architects had pledged to discuss refinements to the design with city officials to meet their objections. Details of the revised design and some of Wark’s objects were revealed by the Daily Journal of Commerce. No mention of Apple’s involvement in the design proposal was mentioned at either Design Commission meeting. However, the size, materials and architects all confirm the store will be an Apple store. Based on the remaining approvals that are needed and construction schedules, the store could open by spring 2013. Download (pdf) the slide presentation given at the meeting.

This rendering by Apple architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson show what the block-wide future retail store will look like. It will essentially be a glass box topped by a thin, white roof, backed by a stone wall (which will be shorter than originally proposed by the architects).

This comparison view looks west along S.W. Yamhill St., showing the current building (left) that will be demolished and replaced with an all-glass Apple store. Notice that the pedestrian bridge connecting the two portions of the Pioneer Square mall will also be removed.


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