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2012 Opening

Secret Highland Village Apple store to be a duplicate of one on New York City's Upper West Side

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Observers speculate that Houston's new Apple store will borrow design from one in New York's Upper West Side. Photo via GDeluxe.com
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Right now, the construction site is obscured from view. Photo by Clifford Pugh
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The construction site at 4012 Westheimer in Highland Village has been shrouded in secrecy for some time, after computer giant Apple signed a lease in January 2011 and then performed an unexpectedly large "partial demolition" in April.

CultureMap first reported that Apple was moving into Highland Village in November, but the notoriously secret company has refused to discuss any potential plans.

Now that construction is nearing completion and the design itself is taking shape, local Apple aficionado Tracy Evans had a friend draw up a rendition of the future retail spot. Evans personally scoped out the veiled storefront after dark, when "interior work lights transform the glass walls and ceiling into a glowing shape two stories tall, revealing the unmistakable curve of Apple’s patented store design."

 One architecture critic described the building as "a pavilion of marble and sheer glass walls. . . a composition as austerely purposeful as a classic Greek temple." 

That original design, conceived by Pennsylvania-based firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, comes from a store in New York City's Upper West Side. One architecture critic described the building as "a pavilion of marble and sheer glass walls . . . a composition as austerely purposeful as a classic Greek temple."

The iconic building has a glass facade that extends to the vaulted (and insulated) glass ceiling, bound by thick walls of Tennessee marble, with display tables of blond wood standing in rows along the stone floor. No check-out counters, no visible ventilating grilles and nothing unsightly: All stock and storage is relegated to the basement, which is accessed by a glass spiral staircase.

Evans expects that Houston's first out-of-mall Apple store will be a smaller version of the original, with some alterations. ifoAppleStore.com reports that there will be several differences in design, including a glass back wall and storage held in an adjacent area.

Some people might be understandably concerned about the impact of Houston's extreme elements — overbearing sun, sweltering heat, suffocating humidity, the usually-plentiful coastal rainfall and Texas-sized hail — on a building constructed mostly from glass. The Apple store is expected to open in early 2012. We shall see.

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