A Genius of the Storefront, Too - Business Day

When architect Peter Bohlin arrived for his first meeting with Steve Jobs, he wore a tie. "Steve laughed, and I've never worn a tie again," Bohlin said.

Thus began a collaboration which extended from the head of Pixar, completed in 2001, more than 30 Apple Stores (and more) around the globe, all with design work by Bohlin and his firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - and Mr. Jobs himself.

"The best customers, in my opinion, not saying anything you do is good," Mr. Bohlin said last week, just days after the death of Mr. Jobs. "They are intertwined in the process. When I look back, it's hard to remember what had thought when. This is the best, most satisfying work, be it a large building or a house. "

Like Mr. Jobs has transformed the concept of the personal computer and mobile phone, he left an indelible mark on the architecture, especially the kind of detail, traditionally a backwater of the profession.

"No one in the commercial architecture has never channeled product in the architecture for a client on how Peter has done for Apple," said James Timberlake, a founding partner of KieranTimberlake, now the design of the New U.S. Embassy in London. "Architecture is the most commercial sub-detailed, sub-edited and under-budgeted. It's raw and ugly, and most of it is an eyesore on the American landscape. "

The work of Bohlin and his colleagues for Apple, by contrast, is smooth, transparent, inviting, technologically advanced - and expensive. In many ways, the architecture of retail sales is simply the biggest club in which an Apple product is wrapped, and Mr. Jobs was renowned attention to detail in the presentation of an Apple product and experience client.

The use of glass in structures such as the Apple cube on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th streets in Manhattan, the cylinder in the Pudong district of Shanghai and its trading floor on the outbreak Upper West Side Manhattan has become so distinctive that Apple is seeking patents glass elements. Cabinet of Mr. Bohlin has won 42 awards for his work for Apple and Bohlin was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 2010.

In their years of work together, Mr. Jobs and Mr. Bohlin, who is 74, seems to have achieved a rare chemistry.

Mr. Jobs was "a very public person," observed Mr. Timberlake. "This is in contrast to Peter. It is not a Frank Lloyd Wright or Philip Johnson. It does not sweep into a room and take the relay. You go to a design meeting, and it's more like a fireside chat. "

A team led by Karl Backus at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson learned early on the approach of Mr. Jobs with alternatives. "He liked to be presented with options and would often make suggestions very sound", said Mr. Backus, who lives in California and focuses on full-time work to Apple. "We all enjoyed working together."

The notion of glass as a signature architectural statement from Apple appeared on the stairs in his SoHo store, housed in a historic building.

"We had a two-story space, which is a big challenge to get people to go up or down," Mr. Bohlin said. "So we thought of glass. Steve loved the idea of ​​glass staircase. He got it. You do magic. We made these stairs were quite ethereal."

Like Mr. Jobs obsessed with Apple products, he pushed Mr. Bohlin to make glass structures become more refined and pure.

"We got involved James O'Callaghan. It is brilliant, a British engineer structural, with offices in New York and London," Mr. Bohlin said. "Now we are cantilevered stairs from top to bottom."

In the new Apple store in Hamburg, Germany, stairs float in space, attached only at the top and bottom. The fittings are integrated into the glass, "so you get the elegant profile magic when you look at the wall." Bohlin said.

"It's the kind of detail Steve wanted," he added. "We've been driving for this, do more and do more with less. It was a vision of architecture since the beginning of the century last. Modernism, some people say is do more with less. Steve wanted us to push the cutting edge of technology, but it had to be comfortable for people. Sometimes this idea is lost in modernism. C is an interesting challenge, how to marry the two. "

Apple's use of glass in architectural detail has emerged as a design element and brand to its Fifth Avenue store, which opened in 2006. The site was the initial challenge of luring customers in Metro Plaza, which was notoriously inhospitable as a retail destination. The solution was a glass cube virgin staircase flooded with natural light.