Emerging from a concrete courtyard a block south of New York City’s Central Park is one of the most recognizable pieces of Apple’s corporate identity.
A steel-and-glass cube, designed by architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and erected in 2006, has been a fixture of Manhattan’s tourist circuit since it arrived on a heavily trafficked block along Fifth Avenue. Beneath it, housed in the basement of the General Motors building, was the world’s only 24-hour Apple store. Founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs, and other Apple dignitaries, attended its opening, and for years TV crews have perched outside of it to document the insane lines that build up with each new iPhone launch.
But under the cover of darkness in 2017, the cube disappeared, and a makeshift Apple store was set up just around the corner. Apple said it planned to rebuild and double the size of the subterranean store, which was accessible only by an opaque spiral staircase and a tiny see-through elevator.
Today (Sept. 6), as quickly as it had disappeared, the cube was back. But it’s no longer see-through: it’s been covered in a semi-reflective, multicolored wrap that seems to allow enough light through to show the famous Apple logo hanging from the top of the cube, but not enough for prying eyes to see what’s going on underground. Getting as close as possible, you could make out the that elevator has returned, but that’s about it.
When will the store reopen? All we can tell is “soon.”
A sticker on the outside of the wrap read:
Apple Fifth Avenue
Always Open to Open Minds
Beneath the surface of Fifth Avenue, you’ll soon discover a reimagined space where creativity is always welcome. A 24-hour store with doors open to the bright lights and big ideas of this city, ready to inspire what you can do, discover, and make next.
A crew was working diligently today amid temporary barriers to install some new metallic objects next to the cube. They seemed to be covering up the old skylights the underground store used to rely on for natural light.
This is likely the biggest re-launch of an Apple store since the departure of former retail chief Angela Ahrendts, who left Apple in February. The role has since been folded into the responsibilities of Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of HR.
A filming crew was posted outside the cube, grabbing shots of passers-by photographing themselves with the new design. One of the crew members told Quartz they were filming “a new commercial” for Apple about the relaunched store, but wouldn’t go into any further detail.
Apple is hosting its annual September event on Tuesday (Sept. 10) where it traditionally unveils its latest iPhones and other gadgets. It’s possible we’ll learn more about the refurbished New York store then.