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Apple Wins Another Architectural Patent For Its Glass Cylinder Staircase

Fins, curved sheets of glass, complicated lamination processes. It's not just a staircase, it's an Apple Store staircase.

  • <p>The staircase, seen here in Shanghai, was the creation of nine people: David Andreini, Karl Backus, Jon F. Cooksey, Tim Eliassen, Scott David hazard, Holger Krueger, Peter Lenk, James O'Callaghan and Xhang Yutang. [Image: Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/5223542672/sizes/l/in/photolist-8XA2fy/" target="_blank">Robert S. Donovan</a>]</p>
  • <p>The metal joints are attached to the glass sheets using a special laminating process. With so many people climbing and descending the stairs, stability is needed. Perhaps those iOS 7 users lamenting the <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3018636/fast-feed/ios-7-is-reportedly-making-people-sick" target="_self">sick-making effects of the new OS</a> should petition Apple to use the same process on its next upgrade. [Image: Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbmarkin/5461906308/sizes/l/in/photolist-9jDGsq-dKKvuH-dLxppW-dKKwf6-doJutu-8kHCou-3fK4PA-8DqDMj-9AzHnT-8RHDo6-8Q5gLi-aVnQ1X-8xYonR-8wowXN-dKR1eh-dKKwuT-dKR2fU-8DnCwr-aqxsBb-8CT3ut-9jAB9T-9jAAmv-9jDFYj-9jAzVc-9jAAHv-9jDGc1-9jDFfE-9jDGef-9jDGiL-9jDFR1-9jDGG3-9jAB7z-9jAAke-9jAAnz-9jDGCC-9jDFXh-9jDGd1-9jAAqr-9jDFo3-9jAAsM-9jAARg-9jDF5f-9jAzFt-9jDG87-9jDFJQ-9jDFVE-9jDGzs-8BpBwg-9fjShQ-dBDJXq-aorhaR/" target="_blank">Pablo Taking Pictures</a>]</p>
  • <p>A view up to the vast roof which echoes the clean lines of the inner cylinder. It is held up by glass fins which are attached to the smaller glass structure. The store is surrounded by Shanghai's imposing skyscrapers, but still manages to hold its own. [Image: Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jon_skilling/8380334272/sizes/c/in/photolist-dLxppW-dKKwf6-doJutu-8muduW-8kHCou-8XA2fy-3fK4PA-8DqDMj-bVZpjU-bVZpvY-bVZpB3-bVZpyA-bVZpum-bVZpmW-bVZpoy-bVZpru-bVZpCN-bVZpEL-9AzHnT-8RHDo6-8Q5gLi-aDH5TD-9zCKkD-aVnQ1X-8xYonR-8wowXN-8j1Yug-dKR1eh-dKKwuT-dKR2fU-8DnCwr-aqxsBb-dnFo4F-8CT3ut-dnFfAw-9jAB9T-9jAAmv-9jDFYj-9jAzVc-9jAAHv-9jDGc1-9jDGef-9jDGiL-9jDFR1-9jDGG3-9jDFfE-9jAAke-9jAAnz-9jDGCC-9jDFXh-9jAB7z/" target="_blank">Jon Skilling</a>]</p>
  • <p>As well as their decorative effect, these vast sheets of curved glass strengthen the interior. The patent for glass laminate support structure was partly held by Steve Jobs, whose vision encompassed everything Apple did in his lifetime, and which continues to influence the firm. [Image: Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbmarkin/5461905414/sizes/z/in/photolist-9jDGc1-9jDFfE-9jDGef-9jDGiL-9jDFR1-9jDGG3-9jAAke-9jAAnz-9jDGCC-9jDFXh-9jDGd1-9jAAbc-9jDGsq-9jAzSz-9jDFwm-9jAB7z-9jAAqr-9jDFo3-9jAAsM-9jAARg-9jDGnL-9jAA5i-9jDFxh-9jAAPa-9jDFq5-9jABgi-9jDFzb-9jDF15-9jDG4f-9jAAA2-9jDGH9-9jDGwo-9jDFgL-9jAA3Z-9jAzDF-9jDFKW-9jAAJz-9jAzzg-9jDFCS-9jDFSA-9jDF5f-9jAzFt-9jDG87-9jAAoB-9jDFJQ-9jDFE5-9jDG9f-9jAB4H-9jDFVE-9jDGzs-9jDGEu/" target="_blank">Pablo Taking Pictures</a>]</p>
  • <p>Is this design only going to be seen in Shanghai? Of course not! Expect variations on the style all over the world--until Apple's next architectural patent comes along. Perhaps some will come from the firm's new "<a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/1758552/apple-does-spaceship-make-my-glass-look-big" target="_self">spaceship</a>" campus, whose arrival is imminent. [Image: Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fhke/6042014576/sizes/z/in/photolist-acUUr7-dapA7B-aorhaR-4sBwsi-8BgKEC-dnFqqq-9DpnGo-uqmD5/" target="_blank">FHKE</a>]</p>
  • 01 /05

    The staircase, seen here in Shanghai, was the creation of nine people: David Andreini, Karl Backus, Jon F. Cooksey, Tim Eliassen, Scott David hazard, Holger Krueger, Peter Lenk, James O'Callaghan and Xhang Yutang. [Image: Flickr user Robert S. Donovan]

  • 02 /05

    The metal joints are attached to the glass sheets using a special laminating process. With so many people climbing and descending the stairs, stability is needed. Perhaps those iOS 7 users lamenting the sick-making effects of the new OS should petition Apple to use the same process on its next upgrade. [Image: Flickr user Pablo Taking Pictures]

  • 03 /05

    A view up to the vast roof which echoes the clean lines of the inner cylinder. It is held up by glass fins which are attached to the smaller glass structure. The store is surrounded by Shanghai's imposing skyscrapers, but still manages to hold its own. [Image: Flickr user Jon Skilling]

  • 04 /05

    As well as their decorative effect, these vast sheets of curved glass strengthen the interior. The patent for glass laminate support structure was partly held by Steve Jobs, whose vision encompassed everything Apple did in his lifetime, and which continues to influence the firm. [Image: Flickr user Pablo Taking Pictures]

  • 05 /05

    Is this design only going to be seen in Shanghai? Of course not! Expect variations on the style all over the world--until Apple's next architectural patent comes along. Perhaps some will come from the firm's new "spaceship" campus, whose arrival is imminent. [Image: Flickr user FHKE]

Apple's rather magnificent staircase in its Shanghai store has won a patent. The cylindrical design, made from curved glass slabs, is comprised of a glass tube and has stairs that snake around. It looks like something that James T. Kirk might have used when he wanted to get changed after a hard day on the bridge of the U.S.S.S. Enterprise. It is beautiful.

It's not the first time Apple has trademarked something to do with its retail spaces—pardon me, "the environment we inhabit." In fact, the whole look of the store, conceived by Steve Jobs, with its blond wood, glass storefront, and amazing Jobsian glass staircase, is now covered by the USPTO. What architectural patents will the firm's upcoming new "spaceship" campus throw up? We should prepare to be amazed and delighted.

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