Flatiron (NYC) Store Design

Update: In its Oct. 16, 2005 edition, the New York Post confirmed that Apple is dropping plans for this store location, apparently because of criticism of the proposed design or the inability to get the design formally approved by the city's permit authorities.


Apple's attempt to install a retail store into the Flatiron district of Manhattan has been met with architectural criticism from the local Community Board. The first design proposal was too glitzy, the Board said, and even the second is significantly different from neighboring buildings.

According to an on-line story by Matthew Grace of The New York Observer, Apple has submitted two design proposals for the future store at 136 Fifth Ave. in south-central Manhattan. The first design called for reconstruction of the existing building and a new façade. But the design included Apple's standard back-lit logo, which the local Community Board found too bright for the area. The Board recommended to the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission that the design not be approved, and the Commission denied the Certificate of Appropriateness that's necessary to move forward with the project.

As detailed by the Observer, several Community Board members did not appreciate the first design's glitzy features, saying it didn't match the surrounding buildings, many of which date to the late 1800s. According to Apple, the building that originally occupied the space was built in 1850 and was altered in 1982. Records show that the corner building to the left in the photo below is where Alexander Graham Bell made the first interstate telephone call in 1877 to New Brunswick (NJ).

The Commission has jurisdiction over design approval because the space is just within the Ladies Mile Historic District.

Apple's second proposed design (shown below) includes the demolition of the building, and construction of a new 2-story building that tones down the original design, according to the Observer story, by using a glass-fronted design set back from the surrounding buildings.

Apple was scheduled to re-visit the Commission on July 26, 2005 for another hearing on the certificate.

Download a 2-page Acrobat (pdf) flyer from Winick Realty Group describing the 25'x160' property, including the $60,000 per month rental asking price.

Update: As of Aug. 3, 2005 the Community Board voted 19-7 against the new glass-front design. The Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to hear the proposal in mid-August. (NY Times article)

Update: On Sept. 23, 2005 a sign was spotted on the building, "Retail Space Available." It's not clear if this means that the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission has denied Apple's application for a permit to demolish the building.

According to "The New York Observer" Web site, the original building burned, and the coffee shop owner re-built a shorter structure to continue operation. (photo by Matthew Grace / The New York Observer)

This is a version of the design rendering that Apple prepared for a presentation to New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission earlier this year. It shows the second design that Apple proposed. Instead of being flush with the surrounding buildings, this design is inset about 6 feet. The reconstruction includes a 2-story retail space that's about 3 feet taller than the previous building. It features vertical glass panels over a stone or metal façade, and a floating white Apple logo behind the glass, similar to the Regent Street (London) store. Both the ground and second floor have mini-store-like features, including the wall graphics and display counters. There are tall merchandise shelves on the second floor, running front-to-back. The ceiling on both floors resembles the stretched translucent material now used in Apple's mini-stores. (rendering photo by Matthew Grace / The New York Observer; Photoshopped by Steven)