Apple is expected to open its latest flagship Apple Store this weekend, however the company’s newest retail project isn’t just another Apple Store, but actually represents the most historic restoration project that it has ever attempted, revitalizing the Carnegie Library on Mount Vernon in Washington D.C. into perhaps the most iconic representation of how Apple blends technology and humanities and the liberal arts all into one seamless environment.
In a news release today, Apple has offered a preview of the new location, including some stunning images of what it’s going to look like and some more background on the company’s efforts in putting it all together. The location will not only include Apple’s newest retail store, but will also house the new DC History Center, which includes the Kiplinger Research Library, three galleries, and a museum store, which will all be owned and operated by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
The restoration of the historic building is notable also for the direct involvement of Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, who has traditionally focused his efforts more on Apple product design. Due to the significance of this project, however, Ive worked in close collaboration with architectural design and engineering firm Foster + Partners to create a unique space that would embrace the modern era without sacrificing the historic significance and original grandeur of the 1903 landmark.
I love the synergy between old and new, the juxtaposition of the historic fabric and contemporary design. In its ‘new’ phase of life, Apple Carnegie Library will be a way for us to share our ideas and excitement about the products we create, while giving people a sense of community and encouraging and nurturing creativity. It has been a significant honor to restore the Carnegie Library for the people of Washington, D.C.Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer, Apple
Carnegie Library was originally sponsored by American steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, with the intention of creating an open public and free space for everyone in the community to enjoy, and it’s Apple’s intent to preserve that original ideal both in terms of design and activities within its store. The company’s free Today at Apple sessions will be debuted at the new location with local artists and world class creators including artists, poets, activists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, lawmakers, and community builders hosting numerous sessions during the six-week StoryMaker Festival.
We are excited to share this magnificent space with all of our visitors in Washington, D.C., and to provide a home for inspiration for the next generation.Deirdre O’Brien, Senior VP of Retail + People, Apple
This latest Apple Store will be the first one to open under the leadership of Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s new Senior VP of Retail + People, who took over the company’s retail arm in an expanded role following the departure of Angela Ahrendts. With a recent report that many of Ahrendts’ changes had transformed Apple Stores into more complicated places, some have been wondering whether the new Carnegie Library store will represent a different vision from O’Brien, but with most of the plans likely carved in stone prior to the changing of the retail guard, it may still be too early to tell.
From Apple’s news release, however, it does appear that the iconic new store will be following the same structure established by Ahrendts. For example, rather than seeing a return to the older Genius Bar style, the store will host the more modern “Genius Grove” in the area that once housed the book stacks. However, the different layout and more compartmentalized spaces within the library store may very well provide a friendlier and more comfortable approach by itself. If tech support, learning areas, and traditional retail spaces are somewhat segmented, customers will more easily be able to find what they’re looking for, rather than feeling lost in the more traditionally open Apple stores, where they’re often surrounded by a sea of employees who all serve different roles.
The Apple Carnegie Library Store will officially open this Saturday at 10 a.m., and the DC History Centre will be opening at the same time, providing an opportunity for visitors to view historic photographs and documents and learn about the origins and history of the building.