Steve Jobs’s Signature in New York: the Cube
October 07, 2011 - New York
Perhaps Steve Jobs's most tangible influence on the landscape of New York is the striking glass cube that funnels shoppers down to the sprawling below-ground Apple Store in the middle of the modernist plaza of the General Motors building on 59th Street.
Since it opened in 2006, the store has been considered a masterful feat of real estate ingenuity.
Developed by Harry Macklowe, it transformed what was once an unwanted dingy basement into a tourist hotspot and a hugely successful retail space. Mr. Jobs, the Apple Inc. chairman and co-founder, died Wednesday at the age of 56.
Mr. Macklowe, in a phone interview today, recalled his experience developing the space with the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, saying that Mr. Jobs had a hands-on role, settling on the shape of a cube and involving himself throughout the design process.
The genesis of the store dates back to 2003, when Mr. Macklowe approached Apple about the space even before he owned the GM Building, he said.
The New York-based developer was putting together a bid for the prized Manhattan office tower that overlooks Central Park, and he made a presentation to Apple's real estate team about the possibility of turning the retail space - then a plaza with an underperforming basement below - into a store, he said.
He won the tower in May 2003 with a bid of $1.4 billion. (Its value later skyrocketed, although Mr. Macklowe was forced to forfeit the tower along with much of his real estate holdings when he was unable to repay billions in debt in 2008.)
"Shortly after I won," Mr. Macklowe said, "the real estate director called me and said, ‘Your idea has been very well received in Cupertino - would you be available to make a presentation personally to Steve Jobs?'"
Mr. Macklowe said he made the trip, and walked into a conference room off Mr. Jobs's office to find "a full model of my plaza and his idea of what could be built there."
For the entrance, Mr. Macklowe proposed a number of options.
"We had crescent, we had rectilinear shapes, we had round shapes," he said.
Mr. Jobs had a different idea.
"He is solely responsible for the cube," Mr. Macklowe said. "I had different shapes and different ideas, and his cube was somewhat different than what it is now, but it's Steve Jobs's idea."
blog, architecture, Apple, Steve Jobs