Foster's controversial Apple store gets go ahead

Some moved walls and the reinstatement of a much loved piece of public art sees project approved
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Apple Store Union Square, San Francisco - Foster + Partners
Apple Store Union Square, San Francisco - Foster + Partners

City planners habitually send architects back to the drawing board to change their building designs. Architects accept that it’s all part of the laborious process of getting schemes approved.

But rarely is this dirty laundry aired in public to the extent that Apple’s new San Francisco flagship store has been. Of course scrutiny of the scheme was to be expected, given the high profile of both the client and the architect – Foster + Partners. But the comings and goings at San Francisco’s planning department are being thoroughly picked over by politicians and locals alike.

 

Apple Store Union Square, San Francisco - Foster + Partners
Apple Store Union Square, San Francisco - Foster + Partners

The trouble started when Foster's iconic two-storey glass box – which will replace a four-storey Levi’s store - was found to present an 80-ft-long metal wall onto a side street called Stockton Street, unadorned except for an 11-ft-high Apple logo. The tall glass frontage of that original design faced Union Street.

Insult was added to injury when news broke that the project planned to do away with a much-loved 1970s circular bronze sculpture, Ruth Asawa’s folk art fountain, prompting much online discussion and discontent. 

 

Ruth Asawa Bronze Fountain Union Square
Ruth Asawa Bronze Fountain Union Square

Now, the shop has been reconfigured with an 8-ft-wide window cut out of the metal wall facing Stockton Street, while the fountain is not only retained, but becomes the centrepiece of a larger plaza. What’s more, customers can now access the plaza through a door on Stockton Street.

With this project at last getting approval, the two businesses can refocus. And let's face it, Foster + Partners and Apple have got bigger fish to fry. The tech company’s new circular ‘spaceship’ headquarters in Cupertino is in development, also courtesy of Fosters.

 

Apple Store Union Square, San Francisco - Foster + Partners
Apple Store Union Square, San Francisco - Foster + Partners

For further insight into architectural developments across the world, download the Phaidon Architecture Travel Guide App and check out The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture in our online store. Also, take a look at our new online architecture project, The Phaidon Atlas. Practices can sign up for a free trial, here.


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