The first-of-its-kind Apple Store scheduled to open to long lines of new iPad buyers 2 days from now in the Highland Village Shopping Center is much bigger than it appears from the outside. That’s because more than a third of the space in the 9,000-sq.-ft.-plus seemingly single story store is disguised from street view above 2 adjacent shops. A 3,510-sq.-ft. you-wouldn’t-know-it’s-there second floor extends above both the Sprinkles Cupcakes shop (shown at right) and the Paper Source to its west. Some of this secreted space may be open to customers at various times. Included in the hidden second story are a briefing room with a capacity of 46 people, as well as offices, work spaces, a break room, employee restrooms, and storage space.
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Construction drawings obtained by Houston store watcher Tracy Evans show the layout and extent of the hidden spaces, and reveal a few other surprises as well. The roof, which consists of 54 separate curved 15-ft.-by-8-ft. four-layer glass panels, is modeled after the one Philadelphia’s Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designed for Apple’s Upper West Side store (below) in 2009 (the same architects designed this store as well), but in a nod to Houston’s blazing-hot sunlight the 28 panels in the center will be opaque rather than transparent, according to Evans’s read of the plans. The 26 panels on the perimeter won’t be entirely transparent, however; they also include a 50-percent frit pattern.
The drawings for the store at 4012 Westheimer Rd. also provide an explanation for an excavation that a Swamplot reader noted was “far deeper than needed” for typical strip-center construction: No, there’s no basement, but the store’s air-conditioning ducts and extensive wiring and electrical systems are located under a raised floor. That puts the concrete floor slab well below that of the neighboring shops, but portions of the foundation go even deeper: A 7-ft.-tall access trench allows workers to maintain and reconfigure the store’s control and display systems.
At 5,670 sq. ft., the open glass-roofed sales floor will be the company’s largest in Texas (and its first store that’s not in a mall). The main access point to the store’s extensive second-story spaces is unobtrusive, but it won’t be hidden from customers. The opening to an elevator vestibule is located in the center of the west wall. Within that vestibule are doors to the rest of an 8-ft.-by-120-ft. space that from the street looks as if it is part of Sprinkles Cupcakes’s first floor but was actually added onto the side of it. A reflected ceiling plan submitted to the city for permitting obtained by Evans (above) shows a door on one side of the elevator leading to a staircase and a separate lift for products; a door on the other side leads to a ground-floor workspace for on-site Apple “Geniuses.”
- Highland Village Apple Store – Details Part 1 and Highland Village Apple Store – Details Part 2 – The Opaque Glass Ceiling [Tracy Evans]
- Highland Village Apple Store coverage [Swamplot]