Glass Observation Cabin: Tech Retail

One Glass Observation Cabin

You can see the concrete shoreline of the Chicago River through the glass elevator at the new Apple store on Michigan Ave. “We wanted the building to be as light and transparent as possible,” said James McGrath, partner at the London-based Foster & Partners architectural firm. Achieving this result in the built environment is one thing, but achieving it in an elevator—with moving equipment and transparent materials—is a whole different ball game.

Initial design intentions revealed that team members would need in-depth knowledge of construction means and methods in addition to extraordinary commitment to quality in order to materialize Apple’s vision for a glass elevator with nominal seams and visual obstructions. G&R was involved early in the process to provide insight, guidance, and answers to help the project move forward.

Early renderings were developed and reviewed to assist in determining the scope of work, schedule, and cost challenges. Once production was underway, G&R staff diligently assisted in closing open-ended matters and addressed challenges relating to materials, code, weight, dimensions, equipment, scheduling, and installation.

The team’s incredible effort resulted in a modern glass elevator cab that shows its uniqueness in more ways than one. Floor-to-ceiling low iron safety glass walls are seated upon top-mounted shoes that sit flush with the finished floor. Stainless steel handrails with custom rem brackets are mounted inside the car. The ceiling is stationary and seamless—there’s no emergency exit or light fixtures. Front and rear-opening doors are full glass and each door operator is concealed with aluminum fascia. Diffused linear lighting at the base of the sidewalls gracefully illuminates the darkest area of the cab. A floor-mounted car operating panel with curved edges slopes backward, emulating the curve of a hand when holding a device (such as a phone or iPad). All of the mechanical equipment is affixed on the underside of the platform, which is concealed by aluminum shrouds.

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