Apple must modify Union Square store plans to save fountain, says City of San Francisco

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple may be required to rework its design for a new Union Square flagship store, as San Francisco's Planning Department has reviewed the Cupertino company's plans and found the preliminary proposal wanting.

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The Planning Department issued its Preliminary Project Assessment (PDF) on Friday, finding that Apple's proposed design for a new retail space at Stockton and Post doesn't sufficiently address city regulations regarding open space design, historic preservation, and adherence to architecture standards in the desired area. Specifically, the recommendations call for Apple to rework its plans for the historic Ruth Asawa fountain that has been the cause of some controversy.

The planning board's recommendations advise Apple to "[c]onsider the retention or relocation of the Ruth Asawa fountain as a part of the new reconfigured plaza, perhaps connecting it to, and integrating it with, another water theme within the plaza." Barring that, the assessment calls for Apple to work with the Department "to find an alternative location for its display within the City."

The fountain ? a brass installation that has been in place in the plaza near Apple's proposed store for 40 years ? displays a map of San Francisco done in stylized relief form. Apple's project first drew criticism when San Francisco Chronicle design critic John King drew attention to the fact that Apple's submitted proposal would displace the local landmark.

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Following the initial flap over the fountain, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee backpedaled on his initial praise for Apple's design. Lee subsequently said that the proposal would necessitate a second look, given its potential impact.

Another point of concern for the Planning Department is ensuring that the design of Apple's new store fits in well with the overall look of the area. The Assessment encourages a "contemporary design" ? Apple's current plan calls for a minimalist structure with an all-glass facade and a blank rear wall ? but it also says that the "overall design and detailing should relate to the established patterns, rhythm and architectural character found within the District."

The Assessment makes a nod to the transparent facade and nontransparent rear wall, but notes that "there are ways of achieving the desired design concept while still responding to the fine-grain scale found within the District." To that end, it calls for the plan to incorporate "increased modulation and definition" in the form of "vertical elements to break the contiguous plane of the glass wall, and/or adding color, pattern or texture to the glass wall."

For the rear facade, the Department advises the inclusion of "a more active, transparent treatment." Apple's current plan would create an 80-foot blank wall along "an important commercial street with high pedestrian volumes in the heart of the City's premier retail district." The Assessment proposes more windows or even a possible rethinking of the blank wall entirely in order to "generate an active zone, thereby tempting tempering the otherwise minimally embellished Stockton Street facade."

Additionally, the Assessment calls for Apple to rethink its approach to the stairway leading into the plaza next to its store. Apple's proposal called for a narrower stairway, but this is in conflict with the open space design principles governing the area. The Assessment recommends that Apple "[m]aintain as wide of a staircase as possible into the plaza, in order to create a more visible, inviting and usable edge along the sidewalk."

When the store was initially proposed, it received solid praise from the city's politicians and some designers. Of particular interest were the potential economic outgrowths from the new store, including 50 new jobs in addition to the 350 currently supported by the Stockton and Ellis Apple store.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 66
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    "We'll just give another city our business, then."
  • Reply 2 of 66
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,860member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post



    "We'll just give another city our business, then."


     


    You are a mind reader. That was my exact response.


     


    Apple to San Francisco:  "You'd be lucky to have our business in your city."

  • Reply 3 of 66
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,185member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


     


    You are a mind reader. That was my exact response.



     


    Or better yet board it up and let it sit empty for a couple years while the work on the revisions. These things do take time.

  • Reply 4 of 66
    correctionscorrections Posts: 1,281member
    San Francisco's planning department is notorious for meddling and micromanagement until every project is watered down and boring, but this story's headline simply doesn't match the story.

    That said, thank god for The John King politburo delaying projects and making everything more expensive in order to aggrandize his own inflated sense of importance.
  • Reply 5 of 66
    dgnr8dgnr8 Posts: 196member
    We will see if Apple blinks.

    Mr. Job's would bend the will of the city to his design without compromising on any major design.

    I believe however that new management will give in more than even the city expects from Apple.

    My gut tells me if Apple decides to move forward with that location that they will incorporate most if not all of the recommendations.

    I get their desire to save the fountain and I think Mr. Job's would have worked it in somehow, but I believe he would convinced everyone involved that the actual store design is exactly what everyone wants and needs for the area.

    I do not think Mr. Cook can, will or wants that fight.
  • Reply 6 of 66


    In response, they could submit a revised plan with a giant person hanging off the Apple store with a his/her pants down, bare butt directly over the location of the fountain. I wonder how the Planning Department would take that?

  • Reply 7 of 66
    It looks to me like the City wants to design the Apple store. But there's a real opportunity to do everything the City of SF wants, and keep the store much the way it is.

    Dude! Elevate the store about 45 feet, have a gigantic wide staircase coming in to the glass uplift staircase underneath, and have a translucent floor.

    Put the store on a pedestal & make it totally unique. Cowabunga!
  • Reply 8 of 66
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,501member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post



    "We'll just give another city our business, then."


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


     


    You are a mind reader. That was my exact response.


     


    Apple to San Francisco:  "You'd be lucky to have our business in your city."





    As a born, raised, and currently residing in San Franciscan, I completely and wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.  I'm so fed up with the way my beloved city is being forced to bend-over and grab its ankles to these political clowns.



    That one particular corner is an eyesore.  Anything would improve it.  There is no visual continuity there unless you count "drab" and "cold" as part of the equation.



    An Apple store there, in any creation would be a boon to the area, provide more jobs, more revenue/taxes and these a$$hats are more concerned about some stupid fountain that most people don't even know exists because of its current setup.



    Move the damn fountain to the square itself.  It would/could be a centerpiece and enjoy much more foot traffic than the current location could ever provide.



    Frickin idiots.

     

  • Reply 9 of 66
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member


    I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with TS.


     


    Apple has a long history of an "It's our way or the highway" attitude and I respect that business approach.  Once they've made up their mind they stick with it.  They always appear to have a clear vision of what they want and make very calculated moves to achieve that vision.  I'm sure there are countless other locations that would be more then happy to have an Apple store.

  • Reply 10 of 66
    carthusiacarthusia Posts: 561member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DGNR8 View Post



    We will see if Apple blinks.



    Mr. Job's would bend the will of the city to his design without compromising on any major design.



    I believe however that new management will give in more than even the city expects from Apple.



    My gut tells me if Apple decides to move forward with that location that they will incorporate most if not all of the recommendations.



    I get their desire to save the fountain and I think Mr. Job's would have worked it in somehow, but I believe he would convinced everyone involved that the actual store design is exactly what everyone wants and needs for the area.



    I do not think Mr. Cook can, will or wants that fight.


    This will be an interesting "test case" of how much Tim will fight to drag SF into the future. 

  • Reply 11 of 66
    gbed989gbed989 Posts: 2member
    "We'll just give another city our business, then."

    I suspect SF generates enormous sales. Packing up and leaving would be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Not the appropriate response. The way I see it incorporate the fountain into the building. Just think of the business the fountain will generate. Visitors will come to see it and yeah, there's an Apple Store there too. Lets buy stuff.
  • Reply 12 of 66
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member


    The same thing happened here in Switzerland, the city of Zurich asked Apple to keep the building mostly original as well as the sidewalk and the railings around the new store, there is some silly uniformity code,  Apple had something else in mind and threatened to pull out of the project. The city officials basically said don't let the door hit you in your ass on the way out, Apple dropped it. Zurich really didn't want an Apple store anyway as there is already a Swiss owned chain of stores that just sells Apple products called DataQuest, they have been around since the late 80's. I know people who have banned the store but have no problem buying Apple products from DataQuest, nutty Swiss. We do crazy things to foreign businesses all the time, Mars wanted to bring M&M's here but the Swiss has a product called Smarties which is basically the same thing ,so Mars was only allowed to sell the peanut version of the candy. The Swiss government goes to great strengths to protect Swiss businesses from going under. The Ikea store's are literally in the middle of no where to discourage people from always going to them instead of a local furniture store, the list goes on and on.


     


    What San Francisco is asking for seems pretty reasonable. I don't know how it is in the US but we take our historical landmarks pretty serious and no amount of money or promised jobs would ever change that, especially when our landmarks are 100's of years old and businesses come and go.


     


    Edit;


    I shouldn't comment on this, it's not my country, sorry.

  • Reply 13 of 66
    Anyone having something to do with Apple's stores must be enraged right now. The most successful company in the world, with the best designers, is being told by some m*ron city planners, "it's too glassy, put up some vertical sh*t and colors to break it up," as if you can't see right through it, allowing the contents if the store to be featured as a way to break up the monotony of glass (which doesn't exist because it's gd transparent).

    "While you're at it Apple, why don't you compromise the structural integrity of your building in an earthquake zone by getting rid of some of that wall-like space with the aluminum on it.. Or just make your store smaller, you know, so people can sit next to it or something, despite the fact that there's a completely unused plaza behind it, and Union Square just next to it, which is never overcrowded."

    Unbelievable!

    NB: The ridiculous triangular Levi's store that Apple would replace is not historic at all.
  • Reply 14 of 66
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,108member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DGNR8 View Post



    We will see if Apple blinks.



    Mr. Job's would bend the will of the city to his design without compromising on any major design.



    I believe however that new management will give in more than even the city expects from Apple.



    My gut tells me if Apple decides to move forward with that location that they will incorporate most if not all of the recommendations.



    I get their desire to save the fountain and I think Mr. Job's would have worked it in somehow, but I believe he would convinced everyone involved that the actual store design is exactly what everyone wants and needs for the area.



    I do not think Mr. Cook can, will or wants that fight.


     


    God I hope that fountain goes away. It is a an eye-sore IMO.

  • Reply 15 of 66
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post


     


    God I hope that fountain goes away. It is a an eye-sore IMO.



    Isn't art supposed to be offensive. ;)

  • Reply 16 of 66
    richard getzrichard getz Posts: 1,142member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gbed989 View Post



    "We'll just give another city our business, then."



    I suspect SF generates enormous sales. Packing up and leaving would be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Not the appropriate response. The way I see it incorporate the fountain into the building. Just think of the business the fountain will generate. Visitors will come to see it and yeah, there's an Apple Store there too. Lets buy stuff.


     


    I don't think those in SF not near an Apple store would stop buying the products, but rather buy online. Incorporating that ugly fountain would not be a good idea and if people actually came to visit the fountain, someone would have already grabbed that retail spot to make money off those people. 


     


    I bet that every sports team in SF demanded that the city build them a stadium and much more, so why would SF not respectfully move this fountain (to the dump in my opinion) and let Apple build? 

  • Reply 17 of 66
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    I've never seen the fountain in person, but from pictures it looks quite ugly. What is it with the fascination with "art" that lets ugly things become revered?
  • Reply 18 of 66
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member


    ?


     


    the plans had the fountain outside the footprint of the store anyway.

  • Reply 19 of 66
    timmydaxtimmydax Posts: 284member
    pendergast wrote: »
    ...from pictures it looks quite ugly...

    Duh! It's "Art"!

    More redundantly, it's Apple!

    Crazies & Haters will be.
  • Reply 20 of 66
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post


     


    Or better yet board it up and let it sit empty for a couple years while the work on the revisions. These things do take time.



    From photos I've seen here it is already boarded up....

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