Apple’s flagship store in Lincoln Park – located at a busy intersection in the center of a heavily-trafficked public plaza – consists of streamlined elements that complement the iconic brand while creating a space that is equally welcoming to shoppers and transit riders, alike

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In the fall of 2002, Apple Computer engaged Doug Hoerr to devise a sidewalk planting scheme for the company’s first stand-alone Chicago store, then under construction on North Michigan Avenue. The crisp geometry of Hoerr’s plan – a symmetrical pair of elms rising from rectangular planters – complemented the suave minimalism of the building, designed by architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

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With a streetscape solution in hand, the landscape designer then fixed his gaze on a higher plane – the flat gray roof around a skylight that overlooked the building’s fourth-story penthouse meeting room. As the recently appointed chairman of Mayor Daley’s Green Roof Committee, Hoerr saw this as his chance to break through into the private sector. After meeting with Steve Jobs himself and boldly telling him, “If someone like you doesn’t lead by example, who will?” Hoerr went to work installing a 2,400 square-foot carpet of drought-tolerant succulents on the new Apple store’s rooftop.

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Years later, when Apple decided to open its second flagship store in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Hoerr Schaudt was naturally the landscape architect of choice. The architectural footprint on this busy triangular site, which also included a subway station entrance and a café, left ample room for an open-air plaza. Because this was a private public partnership between Apple and the Chicago Transit (CTA) Authority, it was determined that this space should be democratic; a gathering place for people whether they were customers, commuters, or pedestrians. The resulting plaza reinforces the dialogue between the two buildings while serving as destination in the neighborhood. The design welcomes people with portable furniture, a soothing water feature, and dappled shade provided by a bosque of Honeylocust trees.

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