ValueWalk

Software Blamed For Roof Problems At Chicago Apple Store

The Chicago Apple Store was just opened in October, but already a serious design flaw has emerged. It seems to some that the California-based company had some problems designing a store for a much colder and snowier climate, but it isn’t what you might think. Oddly enough, Apple is blaming software and not the roof itself (or its designers) for the problem, although one would think the company would want to blame it on anything but technology.

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Parts of Chicago Apple store roped off

The Chicagoland area was blanketed in heavy snowfall last week amid a Winter Weather Advisory issued by the National Weather Service. Anyone who has ventured downtown since then and roamed the part of the Chicago River around the Apple Store might have noticed that parts of the store property have been roped off.

The problem was all the icicles hanging off the carbon fiber roof at the Chicago Apple Store. As a result, the company cordoned off parts of the store’s plaza to keep visitors from experiencing an icicle to the head before they can get into the store to pick up a pricey iPhone or iPad. Ice was also collecting on the ground in some areas of the Chicago Apple Store campus, and snow was also piling up on the roof. Rather than using a traditional design that snow simply slides off, the store was designed with a massive radiator that’s supposed to melt the snow so that winter doesn’t get in the way of aesthetics (how dare it!).

Problems with the MacBook Air-shaped roof

Apple is very well-known for its attention to physical appearance, and such attention to aesthetics is a primary reason for the way the roof at the Chicago Apple Store looks. It’s shaped roughly like a MacBook Air and features a downward slope, which is why snow and ice were able to build up on it and on the ground along the roofline.

Apple told The Chicago Tribune that there was a “technical malfunction” with the software that runs the warming system for the roof. A spokesman for the company said architects designed the Chicago Apple Store “with winter in mind,” and the software tasked with managing the roof’s warning system “needed some fine-tuning” and was reprogrammed. He also told the Tribune that they hope the problem will only be “temporary.”

The Chicago Tribune was quick to defend the preference for aesthetics over function as far as the design for the Chicago Apple Store goes, pointing out that many other major buildings and other architectural landmarks in the Chicagoland area feature designs that aren’t exactly friendly to the city’s blistering winters.

The Chicago Apple Store was designed with a massive carbon fiber roof that was “designed to be as thin as possible” with massive glass facades and four interior pillars.

Does Apple have something to hide?

However, the newspaper had some serious questions about the architectural design of Apple’s new spaceship campus in California, which was designed by the same firm that designed the Chicago Apple Store, Foster + Partners. The Tribune blasted the company’s refusal to allow “architecture critics” to tour its new headquarters, which opened in 2017.

Critic Blair Kamin questioned what the Cupertino giant might have to hide. He drew a comparison between the company’s rhetoric and its building design and recalled how Apple admitted to deliberately slowing down old iPhones, all in the name of fixing a technical issue, even though hid what it was doing from consumers. It does seem a little odd to give the design of the Chicago Apple Store a pass while calling into question the Apple Park campus because the company won’t give architecture experts a tour.