Berkeley’s Apple store: God is in the details

New sidewalk panels outside the Apple Store have modular dimensions that match with floor tiles and glass panels. Photo: Lance Knobel

The flow of acolytes to the new Apple temple on Fourth Street is unabated, but most of them don’t pause to contemplate the dimensions of the sidewalk panels outside the store.

If part of your Apple love is the company’s attention to every detail in design, that’s a mistake. As recently explained, the new Berkeley store illustrates that obsession. The generating module for the design is the 76 centimeter square stone floor tiles in the store. The glass panels are a multiple of that grid. Outside, two different size sidewalk panels align at key points with the glass panels and the interior store grid.

Everything is symmetrical and modular, tingling visitors’ subconscious. As a commenter on ifoAppleStore pointed out, the only non-symmetrical element is the Apple logo itself, which gives it added prominence.

The illustration below, from, gives a full explanation of the symmetries in the design:

Incidentally, if you think stories about Apple’s attention to detail are overblown, read this account of Steve Jobs’ urgent call to then-head of mobile applications Vic Gundotra.

Print Friendly
Tagged ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • CM

    I work in retail construction.  Apple is the sine qua non in my industry for unstinting attention to detail.  No one designs or builds like Apple – they are the best of the best.

  • dt

    Anyone want to guess how long it will take engineers at Apple’s contract manufacturer to form their own competing company, powered by software written by American trained Indian engineers in India to make a $99 competitor and bring Apple’s whole gig down?  2 years?  Certainly no more than 4.  It will be the Macintosh all over again, where adequate at 1/4 the price is enough for most people.

  • If two years is all it takes, why hasn’t this product already come to market? The Macintosh has been around a long time now.

  • …and Apple’s computers still control only a tiny fraction of the personal computer market.

    But that’s not where their success is. Their success is in their iOS mobile operating system market. So far, nobody has made anything as easy and elegant. Google is trying, hard, but they haven’t gotten there yet.

    It’s too soon to tell, but Jobs’ health-related exit may open the market up and weaken Apple’s hold on the portable market. Only time will tell.

  • Anonymous

    Next time you’re there, look at where doors bolt into the floor.  There are two spring loaded disks which are flush with the floor when the doors are open; the disks are pushed down when the door’s locked.

    Apple pays extraordinary attention to details, and in doing so often makes superb tools.

    Many in my business have used “good enough” computers for a long time … that’s really changed in the past few years.  It’s rare to find someone who has purchased a Macintosh computer or Apple product who regrets doing so.

    I’ve always found it cost effective to invest in the right tool for the job … and good tools often cost more. I jopart of the recent success of Apple is that people have realized the true cost of a computer includes not only the price of hardware and software but also the value of their time.

    One reason we use Apple products in our business is that I’ve used computers (punchcards, octal, fortran, basic ….) since 1966 and know what “real” computers are like.  We invest in tools which make us more effective, not computers which are simply cheaper.

    Ira “you can call me fan-boy” Serkes

  • CM

    Those discs are called “dust-proof strikes” and are pretty common in the industry.  But I agree they are slick.  I’ve always liked them a lot!

  • Eric Hunt

    I’m surprised a local building code, Berkeley being a prime suspect, didn’t dictate another layout for the tiles in the exterior sidewalk! Seriously.

  • Tracy

    Was having dinner at Ochame last week, and the light from the new Apple store was so bright I had to turn my head away, even though I was seated in the restaurant across the street. The store is ridiculously overlighted,  disgracefully ungreen. Talk about overlooking a detail – this is not the way we do things in Berkeley, is it?   

  • Anonymous

    I agree.  The brightness of the store has changed the character of 4th Street at night … and not in a good way.

  • CM

    Many of the new LED lights are very bright and also very “green” in that they are very low energy usage.  Most of my clients are transitioning to them exactly because of this.  Brightness does not mean not green.  A dim store using old incandescents is a lot less “green” than a bright store using LEDs.

    That said, whether or not one likes the lighting is entirely a matter of personal taste.

  • Osx

    Small to the average  Winblowz computer owner,  but  they absolutely rule in the art and entertainment fields. Jobs himself has said they’e mote then happy having 10% or less of the home PC market.

  • JA

    JA – that’s a big statement…. Ok, attention to details, lines lining up… Big idea? No! Even Gap does this…

    Apple Stores are a good extension of Apple’s excellent product design. They are also brilliantly staffed and organized. Even so that’s a long way from ‘Architecture’…..