Apple wants to sell iPhones out of an historic DC library

It's not destroying the landmark, but it still has to tread carefully.


Apple is no stranger to the challenges of opening stores in historic locations, such as New York City's Grand Central Terminal. Its latest shop may be its most ambitious yet, however. The company has unveiled plans to convert Washington, DC's Carnegie Library into a retail store. The building hasn't been used as a book repository for a long time (it's currently shared between the city's Historical Society and the organizers at Events DC), but this would still be a vast undertaking. In the proposal, Apple would turn most of the Library into one of its shining beacons of modernity while (hopefully) respecting its 114-year legacy.

The tech giant is promising to restore the building to its early glory, and would purposefully avoid slapping its logos all over the circa-1903 architecture. Inside, however, you wouldn't mistake this for a vintage design. While the Historical Society would still have offices on the second floor, Apple would use its community-oriented store concept, complete with a tree-lined Genius Grove and a central skylight. You'd visit for concerts and art exhibitions in addition to shopping for your next iPhone. It wouldn't be a textbook example of crass commercialism, but nor would it be a museum for Washington's heritage.

Whether or not Apple gets to move forward is still up in the air. It's presenting its plans to the area's Advisory Neighborhood Commission on the evening of May 8th, and neither they nor other organizations will necessarily greenlight the concept. Overseers could easily shoot Apple down if they feel its conversion would go too far, or if they believe that the space needs a higher purpose than selling electronics. Still, Apple has had success with these proposals in the past -- and it certainly has a strong incentive to try when Carnegie Library is at a literal crossroads in the very heart of the American capital.