Out with the old glass staircase, in with a new ceramic one?

When we learned yesterday that Apple seemingly plans to replace the iconic glass cube of the Apple Store at New York’s 5th Avenue, the reason wasn’t clear. However, some architectural models that have just come to light might explain the reason and give us a sneak preview of the new design of the flagship store.

Apple replaced the glass cube once before, back in 2011, when it was able to reduce the number of glass panes from 90 to just 15, resulting in a much cleaner look. But this time we’ve learned that the replacement cube may not look any different to the existing one …

The reason may be because Apple needs to temporarily remove the cube in order to replace the famous glass staircase. Architectural models said to have been made for Norman Foster – Apple’s architects – show the staircase being replaced by a white ceramic one. The photos of the models are courtesy of Storeteller via iFun.

While losing the glass staircase, which is almost as famous as the cube, might seem unlikely, we’ve already seen Apple use a Jony Ive-designed ceramic staircase in its Nanjing store in China. Apple of course also used a ceramic casing for the Series 2 Apple Watch Edition.

The rest of what is shown in the models is also consistent with what we’ve seen in recent store redesigns, with the signature features being the huge video wall and tree grove. Additionally, to bring some natural light into the enlarged underground space, the model shows glass tubes from the plaza above allowing daylight into the store.

The models were apparently leaked from Furni Tecture, which described them as ‘a recent model we completed for Apple’s flagship store on New York’s 5th Avenue for Norman Foster.’ They certainly look convincing, but it should be noted that even genuine models may only represent a proposal by the architects, or one of several different options.

Check out the full gallery of images below – click to view them full size.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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