Two New Apple Stores for New York

Designs for two new Apple stores in New York, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, couldn't be more dissimilar.

But their function remains the same.

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Apple Store, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, BCJ; Photo by Nic Lehoux

"The context is different for each, but the program is very similar," says Karl Backus, San Francisco-based partner in the firm. "They're architecturally different, but they're for the same client."

In Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, Apple's new digs look as old as their surroundings. They're in a building clad in brick, some of it salvaged from an older building on site, and some of it newer and matched to color and tone.

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Apple Store, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, BCJ; Photo by Nic Lehoux

"We started with some reclaimed brick and ran out, so most of it is new brick," he says. "We did a long search for those companies making brick in the old molding methodology."

The firm did its due diligence in researching what had previously been built, preserved or restored in the neighborhood - but Backus also looked at some of San Francisco's older inventory for arches, corbels and brick courses. In the end, though, it was typical straightforward BCJ architecture that ruled.

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Apple Store, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, BCJ; Photo by Nic Lehoux

"It's part of the firm's own interests - to tell the truth in terms of structure and exposing utilities," he says. "It's a pretty consistent thing - to be honest about how things go together."

BCJ applied the same theme to its new Apple store at the World Trade Center transportation hub designed by Santiago Calatrava. There, the store occupies multiple transparent storefronts - on two levels. And rather than insert something new into the concourse, the architects chose to work within existing context.

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Apple Store, World Trade Center, BCJ; Photo by Peter Aaron

"We developed a palette for a building that's becoming brighter and whiter," he says. "It's oriented to reflect the grain of the Calatrava building - with an inter-weaving with the ribs above the terminal building."

Inside each, the emphasis is on functionality. Both offer areas for product display, shopping and training - but more noticeable are open areas for teaching and interacting. "There are huge, square-block seating and screens for presentations," he says. "They're for communities of interaction with Apple staff and visitors - and in some cases, your neighbors."

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Apple Store, World Trade Center, BCJ; Photo by Peter Aaron

Like the firm's elegant glass cube on Fifth Avenue, these two Apple stores are closely aligned with their settings - and their customers.

J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art and design for national and international publications, and edits Architects + Artisans, where portions of this post first appeared. He is architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., and the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015)