Highland Village Apple Store Will Have Glass Ceiling, Front, and Back

How might a Houston building with an all-glass roof stand up to the Gulf Coast’s formidable sun, heat, and gloppy rainfall? We all should be able to find out after Apple’s Highland Village store opens early next year. Thanks in part to the sleuthing of Houston production company owner Tracy Evans, the building going up at 4012 Westheimer next to the Sprinkles cupcake store has been identified as a smaller and somewhat altered version of the patented design for the Apple store the company opened 2 years ago on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Unlike that design, however — which lists the late Steve Jobs as one of its creators — the company’s first outside-of-a-mall store in Houston will feature not just a glass ceiling and facade, but a glass back wall as well.

Evans’s friend Jeffrey made the napkin sketch above showing the likely appearance of the finished building — based on Evans’s description of what he saw at the Highland Village construction site. Here are a couple of views of the UWS store:


Arched glass ceilings appear to be intended as a regular feature of newer Apple Stores. These renderings show planned renovations to existing stores in Palo Alto:

and Santa Monica:

Evans’s photos of the Highland Village construction show a bit of an arched roof already glowing behind the black privacy curtains:

And a peek at the roof structure inside, which appears similar to the New York store’s glass ceiling:

Apple store fan site ifo Apple Store notes that the store’s rear will be all glass as well, though there won’t be a back entrance. Back-of-house activities will likely take place in an adjacent space.

Images: Tracy Evans (sketch, Highland Village photos); Apple (UWS store, renderings)

30 Comment

  • “Apple store fan site…”


  • Oh yeah, that will be a hot one. My favorite “open air” feeling ceiling though is definitely the Nasher Sculpture Center in … dare I say… Dallas. Cast aluminum solar shades allow sunlight in but keep the heat out.

  • I’d say that drawing was spot on. I was going by one day and I guess the wind had ripped down the “veil(?)”. And the first thing that crossed my mind was what an energy suck that place is going to be with a glass ceiling/roof. Apple fans in Houston will henceforth be known as ants, not sheeple.

  • Absolutely beautiful!!!

  • The Galleria store smells “gamey” at times, especially when they are really busy, so this all glass concept should prove very interesting on a hot August afternoon.

  • I’m sure the architects have already worked out a solution (shades/extra robust climate control system/variable opacity glass, etc.) to deal with the direct sun as they know no one will want to shop in a greenhouse come summer (no matter how great the products are).

  • That’s great, now someone do some sleuthing and find out why the Chick-Fil-A at Sawyer and Spring St. hasn’t gone up yet….

  • You can assume the architect worked out a solution, but you might be wrong.

    It’s likely the mechanical contractor will size the A/C system the standard way which mean taking into a account all that glass will be left out. Even high efficiency glass will allow heat in. And if Apple’s plan goes like it wants too, there will be no shades.

    I feel sorry for drivers that will get blinded when the sun shine off the southern face during the late fall, winter, and early spring months.

  • And it will absolutely mint money.

  • Given that none of Apple’s execs are women, a glass ceiling is entirely appropriate.

  • Given that Apple doesn’t care about environmental causes (or any causes because they don’t give to one charity), they will gladly pay the exorbitant electric bill.

    Funny how Apple is less caring of the public than an Oil company yet they don’t get demonized.

  • Beautiful!! It’s nice to see great retail architecture again. Have you seen the awful Restoration Hardware store it will stand next to. That monstrosity is roughly the same shape and color of an enormous bruise.

  • The store will have a front and rear entrance. I have some photos of it I will post later to my blog.

    My friend over at ifoAppleStore.com got the statement about the back door a little wrong. Just a miscommunication between the two of us.

    And the front glass does extend out beyond the slabs. Look for a revised drawing to be posted soon.

  • Great opportunity to have live plants in the store, but perhaps that would detract from the hip/sterile/futuristic vibe.

  • As overpriced as Apple stuff is, they can afford the electric bill. It is funny how they get a pass on a lot of their business practices.

    And please oh please tell me they’re really building a Chick-Fil-A on Sawyer!

  • Yes, I’m sure they’ll get the air conditioning all wrong, because they certainly are not known for attention to detail.

    Given how many retail buildings in this town look like a cardboard box fell off a truck and someone stuck a turret on it, it’s quite nice to see something striking appearing on a city street.

  • Ricemilitaryboy, your dreams are coming true…

  • It is absurd that some of you Swamplotters are whining about the possible high temperature inside, reflections off of the glass, and even the high prices of Apple’s products. This building should be heralded as a welcome addition to Highland Village. We are rarely able to objectively evaluate the attractiveness of an building; with this one, I think you can safely say it is better than the majority of retail buildings in Houston. Anyone who would prefer a Best Buy building or some other standard disposable box design is a freaking lunatic. Though, I guess many of you did absolutely love the supposed Art Deco design of the River Oaks Shopping Center.

    And really, some of you think that the architect doesn’t have a plan for dealing with the warming effects of sun on a glass roof? I contend that you are either drunk, or stupid, or both.

  • someone say chikfila?

  • Probably being designed by an architecture firm from the Bay Area. And contrary to the post above, I don’t think people questioning the energy efficiency of this building are drunk or stupid. Sometimes Californians (and New Yorkers) really do underestimate our climate. Also, I hope the glass is re-enforced so it will hold up in an April hail storm. The Exxon ( ne Humble Oil) Building downtown is an unusual attempt by an architect to adapt what was a 1960’s glass wall International Style tower to a Gulf Coast vernacular by attaching solar screens around the building to shade it from our intense sunlight.
    Go see the new Restoration Hardware building in the same shopping center. Designed in California with a beautiful roof “greenhouse” to showcase all their outdoor furninture, along with David Brown’s floral designs. I predict few people will be shopping up there on July afternoons, yet it would be just lovely on a 70 degree July day in Palo Alto.

  • I agree with starkraven — can’t wait to see it!

    I don’t agree with Rusty, though, about Restoration Hardware. I think the building is cool and I applaud the risk they’re taking on such a huge space.

  • glad everyone enjoys it because we’ll all be having to look at it day after day as the parking attendants in that area appear to be more concerned with giving priority to those trying to pull out rather trying to increase the actual traffic flow.

    wish i could just run them over like i do with their parking cones when nobodies there to park my car all the time.

  • @ricemilitaryboy, Mel and Crowner-
    Of course since I asked that question yesterday, this morning I finally saw some workers on site, hopefully marking space for 3 drive thru lanes…And no I do not feel bad about hijacking a thread about Apple for Chick fil A, Apple has me and my office firmly in their grips.

  • I love the concept but keep thinking of the Austin County Courthouse built in Bellville TX during the roaring 1960’s. A large glass wall is located at each end. Supposedly several cars drove straight through it before the county built a protective barrier.
    Yet another point to ponder before construction begins

  • You guys are crazy….I think that they are going to build this beautiful store so that it won’t be all hot inside. That would be dumb. 24 Hour fitness and Chick Fil a will be on that site. Who does Chick Fil a support? I don’t care, just give me a #5 4pc with a large sweet tea.

  • @Freddie Jones – 24HR fitness is building next to the CFA? Where did you hear that?

  • ooh! can they just put the 24HR and the CFA in the same building! that would be amazing!

  • Store might not open at all. Foundation issues regarding the weight of the glass being used.

  • True, Apple doesn’t donate to ONE charity. However, they match every dollar that their employees donate to any charity. Apple has donated thousands of dollars that way so far, and they just started this program several months ago. I think it’s kind of neat that they donate to charity that way, but don’t make a big deal about it to get good publicity. Can you think of any other company that would do something so modest? Also, they’re using a special kind of glass to keep the heat out.

    Everyone have a nice day :) I hope you people all relax some.

  • FYI, I just published some new stuff on the Highland Village Apple Store. Blueprints and such. Enjoy.