Apple today previewed its upcoming retail store at the renovated Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C. Scheduled to open this Saturday, May 11 at 10am local time, it restores the Beaux-Arts style building, located in Mount Vernon Square, transforming its original circulation desk along with skylight area into a double-height atrium and the Forum—in Apple talk, a gathering space for shoppers where free Today at Apple sessions take place.
Foster + Partners worked in close collaboration with Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive to restore this culture icon to its original grandeur. The company sought help of conservation experts to preserve the historic facades and return interior spaces to their original footprints.
From the press release:
This is Apple’s most extensive historic restoration project to date, restoring and revitalizing the Beaux-Arts style building once home to Washington, D.C.’s Central Public Library. Originally funded by Andrew Carnegie and opened in 1903, the library will once again be a center for learning, discovery and creativity for the community, keeping with Carnegie’s vision of a public and free space for all.
The press release also quotes Jony Ive as saying:
I love the synergy between old and new, the juxtaposition of the historic fabric and contemporary design. In its ‘new’ phase of life, Apple Carnegie Library will be a way for us to share our ideas and excitement about the products we create, while giving people a sense of community and encouraging and nurturing creativity. It has been a significant honor to restore the Carnegie Library for the people of Washington, D.C.
The store has all the hallmarks of Apple’s modern retail design, like sequoia tables showcasing products, a huge video wall, large open spaces, trees and more. To celebrate the opening, the company invited 40 artists to lead Today at Apple sessions during the StoryMaker Festival.
The store features the new DC History Center and its Kiplinger Research Library, three galleries and a museum store. These sections are owned and operated by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. Another tidbit: more than 20 team employees at the store are fluent in American Sign Language, and the team as a whole speaks 27 languages in total.
Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s new head of Retail + People, framed the new store as a place for everyone. “We are excited to share this magnificent space with all of our visitors in Washington, D.C., and to provide a home for inspiration for the next generation,” she said.
A recent report in Bloomberg, based on interviews with former and current employees, put a spotlight on some of Apple’s retail problems resulting from its stellar growth, including the removal of the Genius Bar as the central place for customer issues.
For this new store, Apple transformed the area that housed the book stacks into a place where Geniuses will offer personalized technical support and advice.
“A grand staircase leads to the DC History Center on the second floor and the Carnegie Gallery in the basement, which displays historic photographs and documents for the public to learn about the origins and history of the building,” noted the firm.
For more information, visit the store’s page on Apple’s website and be sure to read the Washington Post’s interview with Tim Cook and Deirdre O’Brien discussing the significance and cultural impact of the company’s latest flagship location.
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