Apple vs. San Francisco fountain: Retail power gone too far?

Summary:In the battle against a loved local monument, the tech giant's proposed glass box is facing public outrage.

In the battle against a loved local monument, the tech giant's proposed glass box is facing public outrage.

Plans to establish an iconic glass Apple retail store in San Francisco's Union Square may result in a public battle -- over a fountain. The planned store, designed by architecture firm of Foster+Partners of London, has been branded a "crate," "misfire," and a "box that would look at home in Anymall U.S.A." by critics. However, the main area of concern is not necessarily that the tech giant's transparent design will fit the square aesthetically, but the fact that a local bronze fountain will have to be removed in the process.

San Francisco sculptor Ruth Asawa created the bronze statue in 1973. Seven feet high, the fountain is a focal point of a smaller public square close to the larger Union Square. The artist explains that the fountain represents events, figures and places relating to the city -- and over 250 people contributed to the project.

Apple plans to move the fountain when plans are approved by the city, but considering Mayor Ed Lee was only recently made aware that the fountain would have to be removed and potentially damaged, the tech giant may have a public fight to quell.

Preliminary plans for the store, complete with 80-foot high windowless walls and 11-foot high Apple logo, do not mention where the fountain could potentially be moved to. However, the plans beg the question: is there a limit to what businesses should be able to change or destroy in a city in the name of commerce?

Read More: MarketWatch

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

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