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Whistler Residence Private house

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Most successful architects have a consistent language that makes it easy to recognize their work, but the firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) have won acclaim while defying categorisation. From their modest beginnings fifty years ago, in the small Pennsylvania city of Wilkes-Barre, they have steadily expanded their practice in size and scope without any loss of integrity. Five offices employ 200 people, and though these are widely scattered - from Seattle and San Francisco on the West coast to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the East - there’s a strong sense of collaboration. Best known, perhaps, for their flagship Apple stores, BCJ have contributed distinctive buildings to more than sixty college campuses, and mastered the full range of design, from houses to civic complexes. «All our work is about getting at the nature of people, the spirit of place and materials, and how we make things», says co-founder Peter Bohlin. «Those are the roots that carry right through our practice.»

Bohlin and partner Karl Backus have collaborated on more than fifty of Apple’s high profile stores over the past fifteen years, besides designing prototypes for smaller outlets in shopping malls. Many are located in historic structures, and the transparency that is now part of the Apple brand image has proved adaptable to every context. In an upscale Palo Alto shopping centre, conveniently close to the Stanford University campus, the latest store refines the concept. It comprises a fully glazed display area in which toughened glass fins support a lightweight roof on three sides, a stone-enclosed service area with a bowed glass vault, and a storage facility to the rear. It’s the architectural equivalent of a MacBook Air: functional design of extraordinary beauty, stripped to the essentials, and meticulously detailed. The glass vault is tinted and fritted to check glare and supported on slender stainless steel bars. Solar panels...

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