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Since it opened in 2006, Apple's iconic glass cube Fifth Avenue retail store in New York has been praised for its design and its ability to attract a large amount of customers daily. Now, author Vicky Ward (via ifoAppleStore) has shared new details about the store's beginnings on the plaza of the General Motors Building in her book The Liar's Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons.

fifthavenue_hero.jpg
Ideas for a store on Fifth Avenue originally began in November 2003 when former Apple CEO Steve Jobs met with property mogul Harry Macklowe after being connected through Apple's former Vice President of Real Estate George Blankenship. Jobs initially wanted a store that "would be open 24/7", and worked with architects from architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson who designed Apple's store in SoHo, Manhattan.

It was at that point where Jobs, Macklowe, and the designers thought of placing a square glass cube in an unused basement within the GM Building's Plaza:
What happened next has long been the subject of speculation and some dispute: Who came up the idea of placing a 30-foot square glass cube -- the world's "smallest skyscraper" -- in the middle of the GM Building plaza? In that lightbulb moment, an unused basement that had caused headaches for its owners for more than 40 years morphed into what is arguably the most famous retail space in the world.

Said Macklowe: "[Jobs] presented to me and I presented to him. He had this cube, which was quite different from what you see there today, and I had a cube that was quite different from what we see today as well. It took us half an hour to make a deal."
Jobs initially wanted a 40-foot cube, leading the designers to set up a scaffolding mockup of the building. However, once Jobs and other Apple executives went to go see the mockup, all agreed that it was too big and obscured the vision for the store. However, Macklowe also showed off a 30-foot cube built secretly underneath, which caused Jobs and the Apple executives to agree to the size.

From there, Macklowe convinced retailers and a CBS studio residing in the area to move, as construction began while Jobs waited. The store eventually opened on May 19, 2006 to much public attention, and went on to become one of Apple's busiest and most iconic stores.

Macklowe's real estate attorney also later regretted not negotiating a higher "percentage rent" with Apple, which saw his client receiving a portion of the store's profits. Macklowe called the negotiations "horrendously low," and claims that Apple had no idea just how well the store was going to do in business per year.

Article Link: Property Mogul Recalls Apple Store Fifth Avenue Planning, Says Steve Jobs Wanted 40-Foot Cube
 

chriscrk

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2011
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Planet Earth (?)
I hope we get little tidbits like these for years to come. It's very interesting reading about how the great things Apple has made came to be :)
 

gatortpk

macrumors 6502
Nov 25, 2003
365
41
Melbourne, FL
Wow, this started in 2003 and the iPod was still young, iTunes for Windows was only a month old, etc. Of course there was no iPhone or anything after that. Apple wasn't that big yet!

Steve Jobs still managed to get such a prime spot.
 

2457282

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Dec 6, 2012
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The difference between 30 and 40 foot cubes does not seem to be so huge. I wonder if it really was such a simple Goldie Locks story - this 40 foot cube is too big, this 10 foot cube is small, oh but this 30 foot cube is just right.
 

proline

macrumors 6502a
Nov 18, 2012
630
1
The difference between 30 and 40 foot cubes does not seem to be so huge. I wonder if it really was such a simple Goldie Locks story - this 40 foot cube is too big, this 10 foot cube is small, oh but this 30 foot cube is just right.
The difference is huge. The 40 foot one is 2.37 times the volume. Learn math.
 

PinkyMacGodess

macrumors 604
Mar 7, 2007
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Is percentage rent on top of fixed rent?

It can be. The devil is in the details...

----------

The difference is huge. The 40 foot one is 2.37 times the volume. Learn math.

30 * 30 * 30 = 27,000 cubic feet.

40 * 40 * 40 = 64,000 cubic feet.

Add on the weight per square inch of the glass, and those would be HUGE and HEAVY pieces.

----------

I wonder why it had been such a problem from them.

It was a space probably more suited for an equipment vault. No windows, only small doors, no street access. I'm sure they had to put dehumidifiers in to keep the moisture down. Popping the hole in it and building the cube over it was an EPIC idea. You basically get your 'storefront' for a 'dungeon' and get to scream 'I'M HERE!' in a very unique way.

It was a very creative way to make the space usable.
 
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JHankwitz

macrumors 68000
Oct 31, 2005
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Wisconsin
It can be. The devil is in the details...
----------

30 * 30 * 30 = 27,000 square feet.
40 * 40 * 40 = 64,000 square feet.
Add on the weight per square inch of the glass, and those would be HUGE and HEAVY pieces.

You're math is producing cubic feet, not square feet.
30 * 30 * 5 sides = 4,500 square feet.
40 * 40 * 5 sides = 8,000 square feet.
The 40' has about 78% more square footage than 30', but the weight of the glass would have been far more since the 40' glass would have had to be thicker to support itself and handle added wind resistance.
 

2457282

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Dec 6, 2012
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You're math is producing cubic feet, not square feet.
30 * 30 * 5 sides = 4,500 square feet.
40 * 40 * 5 sides = 8,000 square feet.
The 40' has about 78% more square footage than 30', but the weight of the glass would have been far more since the 40' glass would have had to be thicker to support itself and handle added wind resistance.

According to the article, it does not seem that Jobs was woried about the square footage or the weight of the glass. To quote, "all agreed that it was too big and obscured the vision for the store." This is my original question, what was the vision that 30 feet complimented but 40 feet obscured?
 

PinkyMacGodess

macrumors 604
Mar 7, 2007
7,901
4,078
Midwest America.
You're math is producing cubic feet, not square feet.
30 * 30 * 5 sides = 4,500 square feet.
40 * 40 * 5 sides = 8,000 square feet.
The 40' has about 78% more square footage than 30', but the weight of the glass would have been far more since the 40' glass would have had to be thicker to support itself and handle added wind resistance.

DOH! No coffee at that point... Fixed.
 

Harmonious Zen

macrumors 6502a
May 18, 2013
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Terrific read. I love reading these little tidbits about Steve. It must've been part frightening and part exhilarating to interact with that guy.
 

Karma*Police

macrumors 68000
Jul 15, 2012
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Wow, this started in 2003 and the iPod was still young, iTunes for Windows was only a month old, etc. Of course there was no iPhone or anything after that. Apple wasn't that big yet!

Steve Jobs still managed to get such a prime spot.

I don't know that it was a prime spot until Apple made it a prime spot. Not talking about the general location obviously, but the subterranean retail arrangement.
 

Iconoclysm

macrumors 68030
May 13, 2010
2,608
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Washington, DC
You're math is producing cubic feet, not square feet.
30 * 30 * 5 sides = 4,500 square feet.
40 * 40 * 5 sides = 8,000 square feet.
The 40' has about 78% more square footage than 30', but the weight of the glass would have been far more since the 40' glass would have had to be thicker to support itself and handle added wind resistance.

Nice, now let's get started on "your and you're"
 

usarioclave

macrumors 65816
Sep 26, 2003
1,447
1,506
I don't know that it was a prime spot until Apple made it a prime spot. Not talking about the general location obviously, but the subterranean retail arrangement.

The spot was totally crappy. I remember at the time there was a question of how they were going to get people to go into a retail storefront when there was no storefront; most people don't want to go into a hole in the ground. Even now the entrance is a total mess, because the stairway isn't quite big enough.

I suppose it must have been inspired by the Louvre pyramid somehow.

It just goes to show that if you can do amazing things you can get ultra-cheap pricing because nobody thinks you can do it. Apple got its music deals because nobody cared at the time, since Apple's share was so small. Everything's gotten much more difficult now that Apple's gotten really big.
 
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proline

macrumors 6502a
Nov 18, 2012
630
1
was that last part really needed? it completely invalidates whatever point you were trying to make.
Sorry, I don't take kindly to people who post without taking the time to think. There is a huge difference in the visual impact of a cube and a cube that is more than twice as big.
 
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