Apple Store, Ginza

Apple Inc., Tokyo, Japan

Apple Computer opened their first international retail location in the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan. In renovating an existing office building in this visually active and busy shopping district, the design team redesigned the facade of this existing eight-story corner building. To establish a strong presence, the new facade is a simple rectilinear form with uniform, clean lines and an elegant material palette. In a neighborhood full of collaged facades in an incredible array of materials, the Apple building stands out with its minimal design.

The facade uses bead-blasted stainless steel panels at the first three levels. The remaining five floors use an open-joint, glass, rain-screen system in front of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. The double skin employs ceramic-fritted, laminated glass panels with a special interlayer, creating a minimal, elegant external curtain that provides thermal protection to the internal second skin. Gaps at the bottom and top of the glass curtain allow natural air circulation in the double skin cavity, and the glass functions as an acoustical and weather barrier for the inner facade. From the interior, the glass doors let in natural light, and allow views out to the bustling neighborhood.

The Ginza Store is unique for Apple because of its vertical orientation. The Ginza Store has 5 floors open to the public. The design team had to develop a vertical circulation scheme that linked the floors and hinted at what is above. The solution was a custom-designed all-glass elevator scheme. The elevators and the entrance wall to the elevators were designed to be as transparent as possible. The elevator cabs use Otis' all-glass doors, which are the first such doors that require no frames. The shaft of the elevator is exposed to full view behind a large expanse of clear glass, so that the arrival and departure of each cab could be seen and anticipated. The twin elevator cabs are made using low-iron glass for maximum clarity, and supported by stainless steel point fittings. The design of the fittings help the elevators realize maximum transparency and a minimalist, precision aesthetic that is closely related to the industrial design of Apple's products

The five floors offer various ways to engage the Apple Product line, from casual browsing in the shop floors to active learning in the demonstration theater and studio classrooms. Throughout the shop floors, cool gray limestone and bead-blasted stainless steel are used on the floors and walls. The furniture throughout the store is comprised of simply detailed maple tables and benches that balance the cool, technical character of the space with familiar warmth.

Functional aspects of the store such as heating/cooling, lighting, security and acoustics are integrated into the design of the ceiling system. Supply and return vents for heating/cooling, sprinkler heads, light boxes and cameras are aligned in the aluminium troughs of the custom ceiling system. Speakers and extensive data cabling are hidden above the crisp white stretched fabric ceiling panel system.

Throughout the space rigorous attention to detail has created a "static-free" environment. Distracting elements have been edited out of the visual field, and in this serene yet stimulating world the products gracefully assume center stage. Simple, honest materials and thoughtfully resolved details echo qualities of the sophisticated, elegant computers and software on display.


2005 Honor Award for Design
AIA Pennsylvania
2005 Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture
AIA San Francisco
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Related Links

External: Apple Store Ginza
Client: Other projects for Apple Inc.