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Controversy brews around Apple's plans for new San Francisco store

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
It's rare for Apple Stores to encounter much in the way of design criticism, but that's exactly what's happening in San Francisco, where Apple's proposed new flagship store is catching flak for both design and its impact on the area.

sanfran


Apple revealed plans to move its flagship store from Stockton and Ellis to San Francisco's Union Square earlier this month. The new location will be 45 percent larger than the current flagship, with all of the same features.

The San Francisco Chronicle's urban design critic John King, though, published a critique of Apple's plans for the store, calling it "a box that would look at home in Anymall, U.S.A.

The proposed store was designed by Foster + Partners, a firm Apple began working with recently in order to tweak the look of its retail locations. The all-glass storefront in Foster's design is one of King's bigger hangups about the location, as it will see direct sun exposure for much of the day, while the side facing Stockton Street will simply be a windowless wall.

King's biggest complaint, though, appears to be the impact the store will have on its surroundings. The new store will significantly decrease the size of the public plaza behind it, and it will also require the removal of a popular fountain sculpture.

sanfran


In place for 40 years, the bronze Ruth Asawa fountain was designed as the centerpiece of the existing Stockton Street plaza. It displays a map of San Francisco done in a stylized relief form.

The fountain, which King says "could exist nowhere else but here," is not visible in any of Apple's plans for its store, and King presumes that its absence means that the fountain will be removed.

Apple's plan was met with considerable enthusiasm by San Francisco's city planners, and King believes the plan will likely proceed without any significant redesigns.

Foster + Partners is the same firm that designed Apple's forthcoming "spaceship" campus. Apple in the past has worked with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson on its retail outlet designs.
post #2 of 48

Lots of presuming done here...

post #3 of 48
Criticism of one person (so far) is controversy?
post #4 of 48
This is not a "popular" fountain. It is an ugly, dated looking monstrosity in a poorly designed space that is always in the shade, and so, in San Francisco, that makes it perpetually, unpleasantly cold and windblown.

The steps are a very poor alternative to sitting, eating lunch or doing anything else across the street in Union Square, which the new Apple store will face.

Anyone actually in SF knows the "Comicals" John King is a blowhard who says nothing of note. He praises ugly projects and picks at things like this. While it certainly can be criticized, any problem with the new store is certainly not because it ignores the ugly, unused diagonal steps behind it rather than opening out into Union Square.
post #5 of 48
Embedded in this fountain is a small piece of San Francisco's history and spirit. Hundreds of San Franciscans contributed to its making. I hope this isn't true.
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by N8ERSWORD View Post

Ugly fountain is ugly. Looks like Apple would be doing them a favor by removing it. 40 years doesn't exactly make it a historical object.

Ugly or not they should probably preserve it as a historical artifact. They could auction it off to some museum, foundation or private citizen. I'm sure someone wants it. It would be a shame to melt it down. It must have some historical relevance. 

 

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Edited by mstone - 5/28/13 at 3:22pm

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post #7 of 48

Don't see how you can criticise Apple for an Anymall aesthetic when you have that completely generic Levi's store next door.

 

The fountain is interesting looking, but I'm sure it could be interesting looking somewhere else just as well.

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post #8 of 48

He ain't wrong.  He makes some valid points.  

 

Also, people calling that fountain "ugly" don't have a clue and shouldn't be commenting on design/art issues at all.  

post #9 of 48
I find Apple's store to be much more aesthetically pleasing than that ugly fountain.
post #10 of 48

I liked that fountain while I was visiting the city

post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Ugly or not they should probably preserve it as a historical artifact. They could auction it off to some museum, foundation or private citizen. I'm sure someone wants it. It would be a shame to melt it down. I must have some historical relevance. 


The fountain was the work is Ruth Asawa, who had also made a dozen or so fountains and sculptures all over San Francisco and other parts of California. There are "images" of real people and real landmarks on this one. Some people call it a map of San Francisco.

post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

He ain't wrong.  He makes some valid points.  

 

Also, people calling that fountain "ugly" don't have a clue and shouldn't be commenting on design/art issues at all.  

Those "critics" probably wear pants up to bottom of their butt.

post #13 of 48
Slow news day?
post #14 of 48
"Apple involved in stylised mapping scandal"
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post #15 of 48
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Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Those "critics" probably wear pants up to bottom of their butt.

You sound extremely butthurt over other people's opinions.

post #16 of 48
A "popular fountain sculpture"?? According to whom? I'm over here several times a week. It's not "popular". I avoid that particular corner simply because of the panhandlers and homeless folks that my beloved city prefers to cater to instead of those that actually pay taxes.

That corner is an eyesore. It's no wonder the Mayor was so ecstatic to have an Apple store there. I'll gladly take that compared to what's there right now.

It irks the heck out of me when people put such value on complete nonsense this "critic" puts out.

Critics said the same thing about the renovation of Union Square years ago. Now it is a great gathering place and more welcoming than the homeless camp and the dodging of syringe needles in the old park.

Move the fountain somewhere else. I certainly won't miss it. Better yet, this a$$hat critic can put it in front of his house.
post #17 of 48
Criticism seems worthy - though I don't know first hand what it would look like in the proposed area. Personally, I'm feeling that Apple's once great designs are a getting a bit dated and yes, OMG, mall-ishly standard and spare.
post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Don't see how you can criticise Apple for an Anymall aesthetic when you have that completely generic Levi's store next door.

 

The fountain is interesting looking, but I'm sure it could be interesting looking somewhere else just as well.

 

Not to mention the "boxy" high-rise buildings all around the "proposed" Apple Store.

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post #19 of 48
Dude, that fountain is repellent. In the picture, it looks like a giant picked his nose and threw down a giant booger. Of course, sculpture cannot really be appreciated without actually seeing it in person, so it may be quite a sensitive and moving moment to behold it.
post #20 of 48

Compared to the dreadful architecture surrounding Apple's proposal, the city should be begging Apple to move ahead post haste.

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post #21 of 48
The fountain is definitely impressive though I am not sure I would call it beautiful. A bit like the Sistine Chapel. Completely OTT but no doubt you can spend ages looking and get drawn in.
post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

The fountain is definitely impressive though I am not sure I would call it beautiful. A bit like the Sistine Chapel. Completely OTT but no doubt you can spend ages looking and get drawn in.

 

How about the city pay for it to be removed and dumped in the front yard of this "critic".

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post #23 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

 

Not to mention the "boxy" high-rise buildings all around the "proposed" Apple Store.


No kidding.  Where was this guy when they built the building that's already there?  The other ones on that same block are just big slabs of stone.

Oh right... it's an Apple Store.  It's automatic click-bait for this critic's column. 

post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Compared to the dreadful architecture surrounding Apple's proposal, the city should be begging Apple to move ahead post haste.

 

The city is ecstatic with the building. The only whiners are people showing how awesomely hip they are by being contrarian. I guess their preference for a generic mall-tastic Levi building and awkwardly placed fountain is supposed to cow everyone else into protesting for the status quo.

post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Compared to the dreadful architecture surrounding Apple's proposal, the city should be begging Apple to move ahead post haste.

Quite. It is very cool with that cantilevered impossibly thin looking 'shelf'. Equal parts Rogers & Ive.

post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by DogCowabunga View Post

Dude, that fountain is repellent. In the picture, it looks like a giant picked his nose and threw down a giant booger. Of course, sculpture cannot really be appreciated without actually seeing it in person, so it may be quite a sensitive and moving moment to behold it.


I walk by this sculpture all the time in Union Square.  It's in a area that no one really walks by, it's in the shadows most of the time, and that particular corner is not a place I'd want to be hanging around in for too long due to its attraction for vagrants.

Now I'm not going to be an art critic as it is in the eye of the beholder, and I'm a big fan of art.  While the fountain may not be my favorite, it will be better appreciated somewhere else.  That one corner could really be revitalized with an Apple store.  The Levi's store there is an eyesore as far as I'm concerned.

post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

 

How about the city pay for it to be removed and dumped in the front yard of this "critic".

Childish but very funny :)

post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by danyak View Post

Criticism seems worthy - though I don't know first hand what it would look like in the proposed area. Personally, I'm feeling that Apple's once great designs are a getting a bit dated and yes, OMG, mall-ishly standard and spare.


I kindly disagree.  I think they are great-looking stores that Apple obviously puts a lot of thought into.  I like the heavy use of glass.  It's open, welcoming, and does not feel confined.  The current Apple Store on Stockton does feel that way, especially when there are large crowds of customers simply because the 2nd floor is all enclosed.  They are keeping their stores elegant, yet making the necessary updates/changes that keeps their appeal and fresh.

The more natural light that can be brought in, the better.

post #29 of 48

I agree with one thing, that exterior wall is very stark and forbidding and could benefit from some (tasteful) livening up.

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post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

He ain't wrong.  He makes some valid points.  

 

Also, people calling that fountain "ugly" don't have a clue and shouldn't be commenting on design/art issues at all.  

remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one person's art is another person's trash.. so art by its mere existence is open to interpretation and everyone is allowed their opinion on it.

post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

You sound extremely butthurt over other people's opinions.

That may well be one of the worst puns/jokes ever posted here. Somehow, I have a feeling that even you didn't laugh.

post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one person's art is another person's trash.. so art by its mere existence is open to interpretation and everyone is allowed their opinion on it.

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post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

I agree with one thing, that exterior wall is very stark and forbidding and could benefit from some (tasteful) livening up.

Perhaps wallpaper should be applied? "Livening up" is a poor approach to design that is conveyed to often by people on a committee. Sometimes a municipality will hire a "great" architecture firm and get mediocre results because of this concept.

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post #34 of 48
No doubt it could be done badly, but I'm not going to design a suggestion just to prove a point.

It's dull and unattractive from the side, that's the point.

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post #35 of 48
That fountain and steps does not mix at all IMO. Move it elsewhere, or resetting it in a better composition.
post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

Criticism of one person (so far) is controversy?

I too was looking for the controversy but not a critique by one person. Perhaps in AI's world one critique is a controversy and many is a disaster.
post #37 of 48
I must admit it does look like box from that rendering and one side is a plain wall. I means it isn't as ugly as the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park which imho is an ugly monstrosity but its pretty close!

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post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

Criticism of one person (so far) is controversy?

Seriously! I was expecting a local resident protest or some kind of public debate. 

post #39 of 48
How is it possible a failing institution like the SF Chronicle can support a 'urban design critic'? And even worse, someone who is so off the mark

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post #40 of 48
Where was John King when the awful, Cold War multi-floor buildings that frame Apple's Anymall USA structure were built? Compared to the surrounding buildings, Apple's store is a gem. Apple is fun to critique because...well...Apple.

Apple's stores are iconic in their own way and the company has a right to re-enforce their brand through their stores' architecture. Foster Partners' founder has a knighthood and a Pritzker; John King has a pulpit. About the only thing I agree with - and this hasn't even been confirmed or denied by Apple - is the removal of the fountain.
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