Apple Upper East Side store in NYC wins AIA award for interior architecture

in General Discussion edited January 2019
Apple recently received an award from the American Institute of Architects for the extensive repurposing of a Manhattan bank into a high-tech retail outlet, an undertaking that married painstaking exterior and interior restoration with newly fabricated design elements.

Apple Upper East Side
Apple Upper East Side wins 2019 AIA Award. | Source: AIA

One of nine AIA 2019 Awards recipients for interior architecture, the Apple Upper East Side project was handled by noted architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Located at the corner of East 74th Street and Madison Avenue in New York City, Apple Upper East Side opened for business in 2013. The neoclassical U.S. Mortgage & Trust Company Building building was originally designed by Henry Otis Chapman in 1922.

Described by the AIA as a "beautifully proportioned space highlighted by tall windows, elegant details, and an airy stateliness," the banking hall and its underpinnings slowly deteriorated as decades of alterations detracted from its original elegance. Over the years, partitions and a hung ceiling were installed as important architectural elements were removed.

BCJ was tasked with the preservation and restoration not only of the building's exterior, but also its interior, including new spaces in a cellar that described as a maze of vaults and load-bearing walls.

Designers restored and preserved original elements where possible, though certain pieces were missing or beyond recovery. In such cases, BCJ referenced photographs, drawings and "historic precedent" to inform the design of new, bespoke installations like chandeliers that illuminate the former bank's interior.

The culmination of BCJ's work is a unique mix of old and new. Apple's typical wooden furniture displays ultra-modern consumer electronic devices in a nearly hundred-year-old setting.

As noted by the AIA, the original banking screen and vault doors were left in place as a nod to the building's financial beginnings. The main vault, complete with New York Safe & Lock door, was converted into a VIP room that initially served as an area for Apple Watch try-on appointments.

Apple Upper East Side was among four Apple stores -- Apple SoHo, West 14th Street, Upper East Side and Grand Central Terminal -- recognized by the New York City Landmarks Conservancy's 2016 Chairman's Award for "marrying modern technology with distinguished architecture." Apple was granted the honor in recognition of preserving and restoring notable historic structures in New York City.

BCJ, like other renowned firms like Foster + Partners, is a frequent Apple collaborator and has worked with the tech giant on various retail in the past including a flagship in Osaka, Japan, and a Stanford University store. More recently, the firm designed a new Apple store location in Brooklyn, its seventh New York City project for the iPhone maker.


  • Reply 1 of 11
    payecopayeco Posts: 448member
    This store is my local Apple Store and every time I walk into it I’m blown away by how impressive it is.
  • Reply 2 of 11
    I am beginning to think Apple needs a few more kickass products to complete with these vast and elegant spaces. Don’t want the package to outshine the contents. 
  • Reply 3 of 11
    tbornottbornot Posts: 107member
    Now, about the spaceship, where people walk into glass walls...
  • Reply 4 of 11
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 911member
    tbornot said:
    Now, about the spaceship, where people walk into glass walls...
    Yeah. Look up from your phone every once in a while. 

    Darwinism at its finest. 
  • Reply 5 of 11
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 969member
    Wha happen to calling apple stores “town squares?” Did Apple come to their senses and realize that that was one of the stupidest ideas they’ve had
  • Reply 6 of 11
    LatkoLatko Posts: 398member
    tyler82 said:
    Wha happen to calling apple stores “town squares?” Did Apple come to their senses and realize that that was one of the stupidest ideas they’ve had
    My guess is Angela had to diversify something (from what’s essentially still Ron Johnson formula, which isn’t wrong anyway yet) and then came up to town squares. In fact, AppleStores very much have become gathering places for people waiting for battery/screen replacements, travellers checking their mail/web, and kids. To attract the herds from Starbucks, McDonalds and pizza stores there is this “formula” - developed by a brand supposed to sell anyway via other channels. Free coffee (as a substitute for product substance ?) may further develop the customer experience.
    edited January 2019
  • Reply 7 of 11
    LatkoLatko Posts: 398member
    mac_dog said:
    tbornot said:
    Now, about the spaceship, where people walk into glass walls...
    Yeah. Look up from your phone every once in a while. 

    Darwinism at its finest. 
    Keep up hope. One day a new species will arise - and rise up it’s eyes again...
    edited January 2019
  • Reply 8 of 11
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,270member
    I am so glad to see these old structures renovated and honored.

    Pittsburgh, during and after the decimation of the steel industry, tore down many of its fine old structures that were built during its industrial era (1870-1970) in favor of steel and glass modernization.   It was a tragic loss that can never be recovered.  And, ironically, today many of those steel and glass monstrosities are themselves being torn down because they are junk.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    Interesting that those chandeliers turned out to be elements that were recreated from scratch by studying old photographs. Those caught my eye as soon as I looked at that interior shot.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    Beautiful as always.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    I don't know how Apple stores don't win awards non-stop. They are amazing monuments to functional design, taking the best and most essential aspects of modernism and perfecting it even further. Maybe the simplicity of the designs mask (for many people) the boldness and restraint that are what make the spaces so incredible and monumental.

    Perhaps the lack of appreciation is just another consequence of post modernism. Where everything is a reaction to a reaction and logic need not apply. The absurdity of post modern architecture is actually a good analogy to the absurdity of the philosophy as a whole. Where being contrarian for contrarian's sake is celebrated, because it is seen as immoral to be associated, in any way, with existing power structures, which are perceived (mostly illogically) as inherently oppressive (despite ushering in the lowest rates of worldwide poverty and disease since humanity began). For those that ascribe to post modernist thinking (deliberately or de-facto, as a natural consequence of following popular culture), anyone that is successful within this system (e.g. Apple), is inherently complicit in the perceived oppression, and is thus immoral, and needs to be taken down. This is why Apple does not get near the credit it deserves for all of its efforts for environmental and social justice issues, despite being a clear leader in these areas; Apple's success is a direct contradiction, and thus a threat, to the core of post modernist philosophy, which causes a high level of cognitive dissonance in post modernist 'believers.' (I say 'believers' because there is no consistent logic there, so proponents only have faith, and emotion, to go on). Only self-described 'intellectuals' could convince themselves that post modernism is a positive thing.
    edited January 2019
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