Apple has apparently spent around $4 million to renovate a Chicago subway station that now also houses a separate Apple Store and a new public plaza. The North/Clybourn station used to be a down-trodden and rundown stop that riders would go out of their way to avoid. However, now when riders disembark they are greeted with bright and polished surfaces intermingled with clean brick and polished steel.
The new plaza adjacent to the station was design by Chicago based firm Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects and includes a subtle, “zero-depth” fountain as well as seating for patrons to take a break.
There is, as always, some controversy with Apple’s investment in public infrastructure. Preservations see it as a missed chance to revamp the station as a testament to Chicago public transit in the 1940’s. Many say that it could have been done successfully with less money and without the use of new materials.
However, because the money was not there in the first place it is refreshing to see a company take an interest in public infrastructure – even at the cost of barraging us with some of their advertising. However, the question must be asked; is this a good path to take when it comes to finding investment for public space? Will there be a time when your downtown park it littered with banner ads and graphics just like a webpage?
I believe that when things are done tastefully, this can be a real benefit to any space. As always, though, there are going to be companies that take this concept beyond the realm of subtle and into the domain of spam. It is not an unfamiliar practice, not while every sports complex, mall, or downtown is wrought with advertising. At least in this case – there are tangible public benefits to go along with advertising profit.
Benjamin Boyd is a student of landscape architecture at the University of Florida. He is the editor for Landscape Invocation and aspires to practice in the DC area upon graduation.