New York Intelligencer:
Fifth Avenue Version 1.0 was, despite its success, an imperfect retail space. The above-ground cube was beautiful, but the there was often a line at the door, because the staircase and the elevator could take only so many people at a time. That was especially true on, say, a holiday-season Saturday, when the store itself reached capacity. Once you made your way in, you were—despite the light coming down through the glass cube—pretty clearly in a subterranean space. Not awful; just kind of basement-like.
The principal changes, in this renovation, address that dramatically. Most significantly, the floor has been lowered and the roof elevated, adding about 8 feet to the ceiling height. (Most of the clearance was reclaimed from a parking garage below.) The newly raised plaza has been perforated with a grid of round skylights that will bring sunlight down into the store. Eighteen of them, which Apple’s people are calling “sky lenses,” have stainless-steel bezels, mirror-finished, and they’re raised above the plaza, sort of like shiny mushrooms. Chris Brathwaite, senior director for Apple retail and design, tells me that they’re meant to foster “sitting, selfies, and reflection,” which seems extremely likely to pan out.
The Fifth Avenue Store will always be my favourite. I spoke to Steve Jobs and his wife outside the location five years before Apple opened it. He was looking at the plaza and pointing things out to his wife. He knew then what the store would look like. I hope I get to revisit this store in the near future.