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The curious story of New York’s most iconic Apple Store, the Fifth Avenue Cube

New York Magazine

Perhaps we could say, without fear of being too much mistaken, that the glass cube on New York’s Fifth Avenue is the most emblematic Apple Store that Apple has right now all over the world. There are many others just as beautiful, but this one has become one more “monument” of the city of skyscrapers, the city that never sleeps.

The curious story of New York’s most iconic Apple Store, the Fifth Avenue Cube
The curious story of New York’s most iconic Apple Store, the Fifth Avenue Cube

Many are the people who visit the area when they arrive in the city, as if it were another iconic element of the city . And the story behind it, of how Apple came to take over the square and design an Apple Store is curious to say the least.

The year was 2003 when Harry Macklowe took over the GM building for the not inconsiderable amount of 1.4 trillion US dollars (US billion, 1 trillion=1 billion). From the very beginning he tried to find a use for the square in front of the building.

Harry tries to get Steve Jobs’ attention

Harry had his ideas clear, he wanted to turn the building into a commercial attraction and the key was the square in front of him. All the architects were clear about this, it was a zone without interest, too open and diaphanous.

Harry heard about Apple’s interest in looking for a location to open an Apple Store and decided to try his luck by offering it to the company of the bitten apple. To do so, he needed to meet with Steve Jobs. He started by groping George Blankenship, then Vice President of Apple.

Starting with him, Harry got an interview with Steve Jobs in November 2003 . Harry soon realized how capricious Steve was and managed to come up with a plan to get Steve to keep the matter from getting out of hand.

The presentation of the idea of the cube, with night and treachery

Steve Jobs had the idea of building a cube over 40 feet high by 40 feet wide . We’re talking about a cube of 12 by 12 meters, think of a building about 5 stories high, entirely of glass. This violated all the city’s urban planning laws.

But the truth is that Harry Maclowe had a brilliant idea, he knew that it would be practically impossible to get Steve Jobs out of his “thirteen” . He met with two Apple executives in charge of the Apple stores at two o’clock in the morning in the square.

He presented them with a glass cube of the measurements requested by Steve Jobs , sketched minimally on the square. And evidently, the executives realized that it was disproportionate in terms of size. Upon realizing this, Harry “disassembled” some pieces of the puzzle and got a cube of the size he thought, 30×30 feet .

The Apple executives instantly thought it was perfect and it was their job to convince Steve that it was more appropriate. On May 19, 2006, taking advantage of the basement under the plaza, Apple opened the 5th Avenue Cube.


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