Design Innovation:

Apple’s New Flagship Building in Chicago Pushes Architecture and Design Forward

Apple = Innovation Apple is known for its history in innovation. We all know how they innovate and bring about culture-wide changes so I won’t get into that, but Apple has been doing some really interesting things in Chicago. Just in October, Apple opened its new flagship building in Chicago – designed specifically with the city’s theme in mind that “stores aren’t just meant to make money”. Effortlessly Apple has outdone themselves again. In efforts to connect with the local community, the building is a site for local educational programs/organizations and is meant to be a hub where users can learn and grow. Currently, coding and software classes are being held in the hub and it is quickly becoming a local hotspot.

Design Innovation

Apple’s New Flagship Building in Chicago Pushes Architecture and Design Forward

Guest Post by | Mar 2, 2018 | Guest Blog |

In case you haven’t looked around, we’re in a new era. Things are moving forward in a big way. Everything is going smart. Smart watches, smart bracelets, voice command with Amazon Alexa, the Cloud, etc. Some people love this; the old souls hate this. Whether you are an innovator or an old soul, one thing that you can’t argue with is that there is a certain beauty to innovation. You might hate innovation but you can never deny its usefulness. This article is all about innovation in the architecture and design world and not surprisingly, what Apple is doing.

Apple = Innovation

Apple is known for its history in innovation. We all know how they innovate and bring about culture-wide changes so I won’t get into that, but Apple has been doing some really interesting things in Chicago. Just in October, Apple opened its new flagship building in Chicago – designed specifically with the city’s theme in mind that “stores aren’t just meant to make money”. Effortlessly Apple has outdone themselves again. In efforts to connect with the local community, the building is a site for local educational programs/organizations and is meant to be a hub where users can learn and grow. Currently, coding and software classes are being held in the hub and it is quickly becoming a local hotspot. As if the community innovation wasn’t enough, Apple’s architecture and interior design of the building is unprecedented and ground breaking. Every wall of the building is made out of glass. With no view blocking exterior pillars you can see through the building on every side, utilizing only 4 small interior pillars to support the whole building, it is an architectural masterpiece. With its razor thin glass you might think this would be a concern for vandalism or structural defects.

But you couldn’t be anymore wrong.

Despite how thin the glass is, it can stop car crashes upwards of 70 mph. If the thin glass isn’t sleek enough for you, the roof is thinner than any other roof you are going to find. With its streamlined design and a focus on connecting the outside and inside worlds as key point for Apple – their designs accurately reflect that. Going with the theme of connecting the inside and outside, the building was designed to accentuate the Chicago River behind it. With an end goal to “liven the Chicago riverfront”, the building connects Michigan Avenue and Pioneer Court with the river, something that no other building in the region does. A walkway alongside the building leads Chicagoans (or tourists) directly down to the river. If this wasn’t enough, the building also draws water from the river as an eco-friendly way to create power. The pumped water is used to heat and cool the building, creating a cost-effective power solution. The heat system is designed to melt snow off the flat roof so snowpack from Chicago winters isn’t an issue.

The Chicago Flagship Building Continues to Wow the Crowds

“Simply an extraordinary piece of design that will no doubt drive competition for corporate powerhouses to up their game in architecture and design” says Mitchell Channon, one of the most famed and renowned designers in Chicago. The building continues to wow the crowds. Currently, the building is booming with heavy traffic. So how did Apple pull this stunt off? Apple went through historical records in Chicago, learned the history of the area and created a piece meant to unite the citizens. They went through great trouble working with the City of Chicago to make sure that the building would be a spectacle for years to come. Tom Fortune with Fortune Restoration (a historical landmark restoration company) has also commented on the site: “I’ve worked on a lot of historical landmarks over my career including the birthplace of Walt Disney and the Flanders and Zimmerman house (house of famous architectural designers who helped rebuild Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871/built some of the first skyscrapers of Chicago). Apple definitely did their homework; they nailed down the history of the area. The plaza on Michigan Avenue has always been known to be disconnected from the river and any sort of wildlife. They drew on this idea and created an architectural masterpiece. My guess is that in 100 years, the Apple building is going to be a historical landmark for Chicago”.

Apple’s Innovation Will Drive Architecture and Design Forward

This architecture is going to blaze new paths. Apple is connecting with the people of Chicago on a deeper level and has worked with city planners about as close as you can. This is unprecedented. It will be interesting to see how other corporate powerhouses will respond. Will they work with city planners to accentuate city-wide landmarks? Will they attempt to connect with the history of the city? The answer to these questions is unknown. What is certain, however, is that other architects are sure to start implementing city resources to make improvements in energy. The heating and cooling system in combination with the thin, transparent, and streamlined design is making a cultural splash in architecture and design.
 
Tyler Dahl is a freelance writer and interior designer who has been writing for various design websites including interior design and graphic design for the last couple of years. In his free time, he loves spending time with his family and going camping.

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