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Apple’s Michigan Avenue retail store wins an Award of Merit for its design

Apple’s Michigan Avenue retail store and the Foster + Jones architecture firm earned an Award of Merit on Wednesday at the annual awards ceremony held by the International Association of Lighting Designers in Chicago. 

The IALD Lighting Design Awards program, established in 1983, honors lighting projects that display high aesthetic achievement backed by technical expertise. Here’s how the Michigan Avenue retail store is described in the awards:

Apple Michigan Avenue cascades down from Pioneer Court, creating new connections between the city and the Chicago River. The idea was to create a soft, warm, and inviting atmosphere, like a living room, where people can meet, learn, share, and create with innovative products. The building features carefully balanced illumination of all floor and timber ceiling surfaces across the glass line. In the evening, the building functions like a soft lantern on the Chicago riverfront, providing visitors with a new public space along the river path.

Most fixtures in the ceiling are expressed as a uniform field of recessed downlights. Behind sits a highly- sophisticated performance design: a low-depth, high-output fixture featuring over 10 optical devices. This unlocks a vast flexibility in the lighting effects that the fixtures can produce.

The design process for this project delved deeply into the physics of lighting. The lighting team analyzed the relative success of various design options across numerous performance parameters, including hyper-realistic simulations of the human perceptual experience.

One technical challenge explored how incoming daylight would mix with interior artificial light at different locations within the project. By using a physically-based rendering engine and viewing the results on an HDR monitor, the team was able to accurately judge the atmosphere being created, ensuring a like-for-like representation of the developing design.

One core goal of the project was to positively support the health and well-being of employees and public visitors. The team selected an LED driver that minimizes both visible and non-visible flicker during deep fixture dimming and long-term exposure to avoid eyestrain, headaches, and fatigue. During evening hours, the project’s lighting dims exhibiting a warmer color temperature, designed to coincide with the fading of natural daylight and avoiding negative impacts to the Circadian rhythms of employees.

The lighting designers – involved in everything from day-to-day updates to client meetings – developed a companion concept to support the architectural goals. The result is an extremely transparent façade that allows uninterrupted evening views through the building, from all angles.


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the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.
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