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Apple's New Flagship Aims to Be San Francisco's Tech Town Hall

With a grove of trees, live acoustic acts, and a 24-hour public park, the new store wants to get customers to lounge and relax after purchase

The new Apple flagship, opening in Union Square this Saturday, bills itself as a town square—a place to gather, hangout, and even listen to live acoustic music. Which is to say, this isn't just a place to shop anymore.

"We are not just evolving our store design, but its purpose and greater role in the community as we educate and entertain visitors and serve our network of local entrepreneurs," Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail and online stores, told the crowd who gathered for the press preview.

And she's right.

The new Apple space, in the former Levi's store at Post and Stockton, is a steely, shiny marvel to behold. Really, it's impossible to miss. The massive standout is the 42-foot-high sliding glass doors (watch time-lapse foot of them opening). It riffs off the old 1 Stockton two blocks away, with an identical steel-and-glass theme; but with the addition of trees and a public park, it's bigger, brighter, and arguably superior.

The new retail space, poised to change the way we shop (at least for Apple products, anyway), is broken up into five areas:

The Avenue: An area with a 130-foot wall of accessories where "Creative Pros," employees with backgrounds in the arts, show customers how things work.

Genius Grove: "The word 'bar' denotes lazy and loud," said Ahrendts about the store's old Genius Bars. She also compared the struggle of getting your iPhone fixed to "going to the dentist." Enter the Genius Grove, which features quadruple the seating, a canopy of live trees, and a bevy of employees for customer support.

The Plaza: A 24/7 private public park area (with public Wi-Fi and seating) featuring outdoor seating and artwork, most notably the famous 1969 fountain by San Francisco sculptor Ruth Asawa and "Love" by local artist Laura Kimpton.

The Forum: A place where "creative pros" can gather to work and exchange ideas. It will host game nights, programs for kids, events for teachers, and other tete-a-tetes that will feature and promote the use of Apple products.

The Boardroom: A small space where the store’s business team gives advice and training to entrepreneurs, developers and business customers.

Keeping with popular decor trends as of late, the retail flagship will also feature a 50-foot tall living wall, as well as live music. The new Apple store opens to the public on Saturday at 10am.