One of Apple’s most high-profile and historic retail stores is now undergoing a renovation that subtly tweaks the flow of visitors into and within the store. Recent visitors to the Covent Garden (London) store have reported black curtains on the walls, differently-shaped tables and that various sections of the store have been relocated. In fact, those changes are just the most obvious evidence of the work being performed overnight so the busy store can remain open. The store opened in August 2010 to a huge waiting line. Apple preserved and renovated much of the original interior, creating unique spaces on several levels that are a delight to explore. Earlier this year plans were laid to move the Genius Bar to the upper level and move accessories down to the mezzanine. However, the work was never started and the plans were later changed. Instead, the Genius Bar remains on the mezzanine, but has been converted to the current 360-degree version. The wall-mounted TV panels have been removed from behind the old Genius Bar and also in the ground-level atrium. The eight square tables in the atrium used for training have been replaced with rectangular versions that offer more seating space.
Two more changes also seem to focus on a continuing crush of visitors who must be triaged at the door. The display table closest to the spiral glass staircase has been removed to create more space for greeting visitors. A second table had already been removed last December as a trial of this concept.
The point-of-sale (POS) fixtures on the ground-floor and mezzanine levels have been removed and replaced with rectangular tables. Back on the ground floor, the POS space was replaced by a full-length wall table, with a graphic behind it on the wall, replacing artwork posters that were previously mounted there.
Until all the work is finished, the mezzanine floor will show some large, unsightly areas where the previous Genius Bar and POS credenza stood. Once all the work is finished, this floor area will be cleaned up.
Two other changes are simply operational. Keen observers say the wall-mounted graphics panels in the store have been upgraded to the current design that allows much easier and quicker change-out of the artwork. And under the spiral glass staircase, the accent lights set in the stonework were apparently running too hot. By last year, staffers were routinely leaving the lights turned off at all times. Now during the renovation, the light fixtures will be permanently removed and the surrounding stonework will be replaced.
A search of Twitter photos revealed two details of the in-progress renovation. In the photo below, a black curtain temporarily covers the hole in the wall where one of the video screens used to be within the ground-floor atrium.
— Lukas Dewhirst (@lukasdewhirst) July 29, 2013
In the photo below, the new rectangular tables are visible in the atrium.
Apple Shop at Covent Garden pic.twitter.com/4Ji0gRwjC8
— Miroslaw (@SlavMiro) July 25, 2013
The following wide-angle view clearly shows the new rectangular tables in the atrium, and how the two video displays on the back wall have been removed.