Apple Michigan Avenue in Chicago is a bold, modern building meant to bring technophiles together. The building is two stories and looks like a glass box topped with a MacBook; the roof is actually carbon fiber and includes the company’s signature logo. Two store entrances are available to consumers: one entering at the second floor on Michigan Avenue, and the other a story below, facing south and right at the riverfront.
The carbon-fiber roof achieves the floating-roof look due to a hidden steel system. Only two massive steel columns work to support the roof framing. The frame itself blends carefully with the rolled edges of the roof. Cold-formed steel framing, designed by raSmith’s engineers, was used extensively to hide and simplify the appearance (or nonappearance) of the structure throughout.
A large portion of the cold-formed steel design dealt with interior stone and wall support, whereas a small amount involved the building’s thick glass walls. The Apple Michigan Avenue store design needed to create a seamless look from the inside out. Grand staircases on each side of the store’s interior run alongside the exterior plaza’s concrete stairs. Additionally, the building’s interior wood ceiling and soffit design extend to the exterior. Featuring the same wood, the retail store’s massive interior doors are supported with a steel-framed doorway due to their 600-pound weight.
The building’s interior cold-formed steel system is used extensively to support stone structural framing, which includes the grand staircases and columns. On the first floor, structural steel studs strengthen back-of-house support where store offices and a Genius Room are found. However, the steel support system stretches further underground, under Michigan Avenue, existing soaring towers and even a parking structure. The supported area is roughly three times the footprint of the actual store.
This project received a 2019 Award for Design Excellence from the Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute (CFSEI).