If you visit Portland, Oregon today, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a brand new Apple Store just opened. Downtown’s Apple Pioneer Place was actually built in 2014, but two months of renovation work have given it a fresh look that measures up to Apple’s latest and greatest designs. May 31st marked the store’s grand reopening and the start of a renewed focus on Today at Apple sessions in Portland.
Palo Alto. Santa Monica. London. Hong Kong. Beijing. Around the world, some of Apple’s most significant “classic” stores have transitioned into a new era of retail design and community-first experiences over the last twelve months. Each remodeling project added a video wall, a Forum with seating and trees, and Avenues — Apple’s name for modular display cases that offer interactive demos and seasonal changes.
These upgrades have offered interesting design challenges, as Apple is tasked with blending the iconic architecture often found in its most significant stores with design ideas developed more recently. Apple Pioneer Place represents one of the most graceful renovations to date, almost seamlessly integrating new design elements to create a space that looks just as contemporary as new construction.
The reopening line. Photos courtesy of Paul Yeo.
Across the rear wall of the store, Apple removed inset tables, graphic panels, and accessory shelves to add the video wall and Avenues. The store’s rear wall is stone, so new blocks of the same material with a matching hue and texture were weaved in where necessary. The line between the old and new is nearly imperceptible. Two stainless steel doors — one leading to the store’s new Boardroom — are the only vestiges of a past life. A first for any store, the Apple TV Avenue at Pioneer Place has added windowed drawers below each television for product storage.
Furthest from the front doors, Apple has capped both ends of the store with Genius Groves for service and support. Each zone has a row of four Ficus trees. The Grove’s layout should insulate it from the majority of foot traffic and Forum noise in other parts of the store. A pair of leather benches has been added just inside the front doors for even more seating.
Of course, the star of the show in the remodeled space is creative sessions. Pioneer Place is the first Apple Store in Oregon to offer the full Today at Apple experience. One of the first sessions held after reopening was a brand new portrait photography lab co-created with photographer Christopher Anderson. It’s reasonable to expect that Apple could line up performances and exclusive events here in the future, too.
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