If the new Hangzhou store is any indication, Foster + Partners are looking for ways to make its already pared down Apple stores even more minimalist. But in doing so, they’re pushing the limits of what can be done with modern structural engineering. Take a closer look: The Hangzhou store’s ceilings are almost 50 feet high, with no columns to be found. The façade of glass panels reaches from floor to ceiling without interruption, meaning Foster + Partners had to push well beyond their previous feats in glass manufacturing to get 11 seamless panes. (By contrast, the glass cube that leads to Apple’s heavily trafficked subterranean Fifth Avenue store in New York is 32 feet tall, and the curved glass entrance to the store’s Shanghai store is 40 feet in height. The Cupertino campus itself will use enormous glass panels that are curved.)
That’s one amazing building.
Apple doesn’t just push design in their products. They push it in every single aspect of their company. No wonder no other company can compete with them.