Friday, January 11, 2008

Spiral Glass Staircase

Some time after 5 p.m. workers at the Shinsaibashi retail store removed the black plastic that had been covering the front window, revealing for the first time the design of the spiral glass staircase--it was worth the wait!
The store itself runs left-to-right in the building, instead of front-to-back as is usual. As you look into the store, the entrance is angled inward, and you have an excellent view of the glass staircase to the left, and the store off to the right. The regular "home," "pro" and other sections are on the ground floor, and presumably the Genius Bar, Internet cafe and "kids" section is on the second level. The point-of-sale counter is at the far-right, or rear, of the store.
Ah, the glass staircase! It has 24 glass treadles, or steps, angled into a 270-degree near-circle. It begins from a two-step-up, stone platform, angles left, and then joins up with a 10-foot long glass bridge before reaching the second floor. The most compelling part of the staircase, perhaps, are the huge, glass side panels for the interior and exterior wall of the stairs, which is a visual and design marvel. You'll find yourself wondering they were made, and how they was transported to the store for installation without breaking. When you done pondering that, try to comprehend that the stairway is suspended over space--there's nothing below the steps or stairs holding them up. Initially you don't realize it until you see "nothing" below the stairs! Then you gaze upward and notice that there are several thin, silver rods running from the staircase to the ceiling, which apparently support the weight of the stairs.
It's difficult to see in the photos of the glass bridge, but the siding for the second floor actually mimics the G5 design--thousands of small holes drilled in metal siding. I believe this design was also used at the San Francisco store.
Interestingly, the front windows aren't fitted with the floor or ceiling hardware to support Apple's standard window displays. It appears that the long side-window will serve to display Apple graphics, while the front windows will be clear of obstructions to showcase the store and the staircase.
Overall, the store design is an incredible use of space, and provides a spectacular--and inviting--view into the store. How any passerby could ignore the stairs, and the attraction of walking up those stairs to the second floor is beyond me! There's no doubt that it will be a crowd creator for the store!


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