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Apple Store, Omotesando

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Shared By

August King

Project Name

Apple Store, Omotesando

Project Status


Year Completed



23,000 sq. feet


Apple Inc.


  • Karl Backus, FAIA
  • Christopher Orsega, AIA
  • Brian Padgett
  • Alex Gregor


  • General Contractor: Takenaka
  • Lighting Designer: ISP Design
  • Structural Engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan & Partners
  • Civil Engineer: Arup
  • Other: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger



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Project Description


This two-level store features a sculptural stainless steel clad roof cantilevered over a grand room dedicated to product display. Thirty-foot high glass walls on three sides open the interior space to daylight and an unobstructed view of the tree-lined streets of Omotesando. A monumental stone wall provides a visual and structural weight to the space, while creating a calming background to the surrounding urban activity.

Upon entering the retail store, visitors can browse products displayed on simple oak wood tables, or walk down a large circular stair with glass treads to a subterranean room for accessories, training and technical services. An ample floor opening around the stair provides a visual connection between the two levels, and allows ambient daylight from the storefront’s glass facade to filter into the floor below.

Achieving a large structural glass facade free of steel was a significant technical challenge in a seismically active region. A base isolation system minimizes the effects of earthquake forces on the store, which would otherwise make such an ethereal design infeasible in Japan. Glass façade panels are tied to an array of vertical glass fins by imbedded stainless steel fittings, forming a transparent self-supporting skin. Custom fabricated 35-foot long stainless steel tension rods at each façade joint constrain the seismic movements of the soaring roof above. The resulting airy space wrapped in glass blurs the distinction between interior and exterior.

Unique to the Omotesando store, the stainless steel and glass spiral staircase represents a new advancement in Apple and the design team’s pursuit of innovation. Precisely fabricated arcing stringers span seamlessly more than 16 vertical feet between levels, landing delicately at the basement floor with a subtle shadow gap. Glass steps resting upon radial stainless steel risers are illuminated by daylight from the ground level, creating a soft glow on the floor below. Every detail in the stair has been scrutinized to achieve a refined, minimal appearance, belying the technical rigor of the assembly. In this reductionist stair design, the sweeping surfaces of the stainless steel structure take center stage, animated by brilliant reflections in the finely brushed finish.

Planted landscape elements are used to embellish the open spaces around the store exterior; ivy blankets the north façade, softening what would otherwise be an imposing solid wall surface. Strategically placed trees along the west site edge provide a visual separation from vehicular traffic passing through an abutting side street. Additional freestanding green walls screen the north and east site boundaries. These landscaping elements offer visual relief from the brutal urban density of Tokyo and provide a cooling effect in the summer.
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