13 July 2012

Preservation or Commerce? Apple or Gap?

In an interesting case of preservation versus commercial interests, Apple Computers ran into resistance in moving its hugely successful Miami Beach store on Lincoln Road Mall into new quarters.

Lincoln Road Mall was one the first pedestrian malls in the US, designed circa 1960 by architect Morris Lapidus, whose credits also include the Fountainebleau and Eden Roc hotels. It has become a major retail corridor in Miami Beach – store rents rocketed up to $200 per square foot, recent sales reached $132m (1100 Lincoln Road, housing Banana Republic) – but is still worth visiting:

Not for the myriad of tourist restaurants or chain retailers – you'll find Victoria's Secret, Gap and Starbucks anywhere – but for its architectural details old and new, such as the striped concrete floors left intact in some places, the concrete "furniture", the pergolas or an acclaimed parking garage:

Photos ©tckaiser

The dispute is (actually, was) over Apples plans to replace a single-story building without architectural significance with a glass cube, prototype for new Apple stores. The non-descript-looking building from 1926 currently houses a Gap store. But that plan caused disputes with the city of Miami Beach’s preservation board over the current building’s historic value.

Architect's rendering of the new Apple store on Lincoln Road, Miami
Short break. At this part of the story, my question to you is: Who is right – preservationists or Apple? And before you continue reading: what would you do if you were to decide?

Made your decision?

Because there's more: facing too much resistance, Apple decided to toss their plans, and guess what happened next?

You guessed correctly. In an interesting twist, the building in question suddenly lost its historical value, Gap is allowed to tear it down and do ground-up construction of a 29,000 sf (!) project:

Architect's rendering of the new Gap store on Lincoln Road, Miami

Now I am really confused – what's good for Gap is not good for Apple? What part (of a payback?) am I missing? Can you explain to me this type of logic?

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