First peek at the renovated Fifth Avenue Apple Store

November 4, 2011, 1:54 PM UTC

To inaugurate the re-opening, Apple seized control of the surrounding plaza

The new glass cube. Photo: PED

Anybody who has walked by, camped out at, or placed flowers in remembrance of Steve Jobs at the base of the Fifth Avenue Apple store since June knows that its distinctive glass cube has been covered with painted plywood for more than four months.

It was all part of a $6.6 million renovation that involved replacing the original 90 panes of glass with 15 larger ones.

The renovation is now complete and the store, which is usually open 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, closed Thursday at 10:00 pm. for 12 hours while workers removed the barricades.

The old glass cube. Photo: Apple Inc.

When we visited the store an hour before it was set to reopen at 10:00 a.m. Friday, the new glass panels were in place, but the store was surrounded by a new kind of barricade. Security guards posted around the surrounding plaza were preventing anyone for sitting, stopping or even walking too close. The chairs and tables usually filled with tourists and customers piggybacking on the store’s free Wi-Fi had been removed.

We’re writing this from the Trump Tower Starbucks and hoping that the restrictions are temporary. Otherwise, the next product launch at Apple’s (AAPL) flagship New York City store won’t be much fun at all.

Doors open. Photo: PED

UPDATE: Security lifted, mystery solved. Doors opened as scheduled at 10:00 a.m. and the queue of customers that had gathered was ushered in through a gauntlet of clapping staffers. The plaza also re-opened and a suddenly communicative security guard apologized for the inconvenience and explained that Apple had closed the area around the store so that it could take a photograph of the new cube without any humans visible.