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Inside Apple Irvine Spectrum Center retail store: The new Silicon Valley

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Located in an upscale outdoor shopping center south of Los Angeles, the Apple Irvine Spectrum Center retail store sports a unique design, and is an oasis inside the city.

The Apple Irvine Spectrum Center retail store is positioned at the southeastern portion of the center. It is a sunlit glass rectangle that complements and acts as a mirror to the soothing neutral desert colors of the mall’s Moroccan architecture.

Apple Irvine Spectrum is light and bright, featuring ceiling-to-floor glass windows

This architectural choice suits Irvine well, as it is surrounded by desert hills capped with snow in the winter. Southern California is that special kind of place where tourists can snowboard, shop, and surf — all in one day.

The mall features Nordstrom and Target department stores, a Ferris wheel that acts as an impressive backdrop to the Spectrum’s massive ice skating rink during the holiday season, a famous artisan macaron shop called Honey & Butter, and a Regal Cinemas 21-screen movie theater.

In the wintertime, Irvine Spectrum is the place to be for teens and families

In the wintertime, Irvine Spectrum is the place to be for teens and families

Apple is now well-practiced in creating buildings that are architecturally and aesthetically attractive, drawing us inside whether or not we need new tech. Unlike the retail stores that surround it, this particular Apple location is unusual in that it is freestanding, unattached to other businesses that might distract the eye — and the wallet.

Apple Irvine Spectrum is a distraction-free freestanding building

Apple Irvine Spectrum is a distraction-free freestanding building

The glass and white brick design is well suited for California, where homes of glass stand like beacons on their desert hills in affluent areas. While not beachfront like Newport, Irvine is indeed one of these areas.

In 2023, the average minimum rent in Irvine is a hefty $3,162 per month for a 900-square-foot apartment. The high price tag has to do with the parks, close proximity to beaches, cleanliness, and most importantly — the top-notch safety ranking of the city.

The FBI has named Irvine as one of the USA’s safest cities since 2005. In fact, it has been consistently named one of the safest cities to live in the world.

Apple Irvine Spectrum is located in Irvine, CA: one of the safest cities in the USA

Apple Irvine Spectrum is located in Irvine, CA: one of the safest cities in the USA

Because of its safety and proximity to parks, it’s no surprise, then, that Apple Irvine Spectrum is a popular choice for families and tourists fatigued by the crime in Los Angeles who are looking for a little breather.

Apple Irvine Spectrum is cozier than some of its larger stores

Apple Irvine Spectrum is cozier than some of its larger stores

Inside, Apple Irvine Spectrum is smaller than Apple’s Third Street Promenade, but it is just as quiet. Unlike Third Street Promenade’s single storefront glass wall, Apple Irvine Spectrum has two unobstructed ceiling-to-floor glass walls that funnel in the sunshine and daily sunsets that SoCal has to offer.

Accessibility: no way around it — brave SoCal traffic

The Greater Los Angeles area is known for its year-round temperate weather, celebrity sightings, traffic, and sunlit beaches. It is not, however, known for adequate public transport. Apple Irvine Spectrum is reachable first and foremost by car.

Irvine Spectrum is car-dependent, with the center itself surrounded by at least 2,300 parking spaces. During the holiday months, parking can still be difficult to find.

To get to Apple Irvine Spectrum, park in parking structure seven

To get to Apple Irvine Spectrum, park in parking structure seven

Apple Irvine Spectrum sits like a cheese wedge between the 5 and 405 freeways. It is easily accessed by parking in the structures closest to Target and entry seven. Depending on how busy and how far up in the parking structure you had to park, the Apple store is a short five to ten-minute walk from structure seven.

During the busier months, choose the parking structures over circling outdoor lots to cut down frustration as you peel your eyes for the sight of brake and reverse lights.

Apple Irvine Spectrum freestanding and fountain-adjacent, located behind Target

Apple Irvine Spectrum freestanding and fountain-adjacent, located behind Target

Once you stroll pass Target, you’ll find the Apple store in front of a beautifully lit fountain.

If you’re new to Southern California and the hectic drive over-spiked your cortisol levels, head around the corner and grab a baked good from 85C Bakery Cafe and coffee from BLK dot.

The baked goods from 85C Bakery Cafe are reasonably priced and delicious

The baked goods from 85-degree bakery are reasonably priced and delicious

Relax in front of the fountain or in the comfy orange chairs before heading inside the Apple store to shop. 85C Bakery Cafe always draws a large crowd. The bakery is known for their wide assortment of reasonably-priced baked goods.

BLK dot coffee is known for its Vietnamese iced coffee and is not for the faint-hearted: this drink is laden with 5 shots of espresso!

BLK dot coffee is known for its Vietnamese iced coffee and is not for the faint-hearted: this drink is laden with 5 shots of espresso!

BLK dot is known for its Vietnamese-inspired java. Be careful, however. The Vietnamese iced coffee has five whole shots of espresso!

The fountain springs into action during warmer months

The fountain springs into action during warmer months

During the warmer months, the white noise and spectacle of the fountain outside the Apple store provide an ideal spot to rest sore feet — or let the children play.

Outside the Apple store, there is plenty of comfy seating. Rest your tired feet and let the kiddos play near the fountain

Outside the Apple store, there is plenty of comfy seating. Rest your tired feet and let the kiddos play near the fountain

During the winter months, the fountain is often switched off. This doesn’t stop the kiddos from enjoying the area, however.

History, Layout, Design

The Spectrum Center mall is owned by Irvine Company, a premier real estate company that grew from a ranching operation in 1864 to one of the California coast’s most opulent owners of office buildings, apartment communities, retail centers, resorts, and golf courses.

Previously, this section of the shopping center housed a Macy’s. However, due to the pressure online shopping began to place on the profitability of brick-and-mortar stores, Irvine Company decided to overhaul “big box” stores like Macy’s in favor of smaller shops in the hopes of reviving their profit margin.

In 2016, Irvine Company announced that Macy’s would be demolished. In its place, they were to place 20 smaller stores. In 2018, the new stores opened in the southeastern section of the mall, featuring the new Apple Store as well as 19 other retail stores and restaurants.

It was a clever move, considering that the pandemic would inherently shift the consumer away from brick-and-mortar “big box” department stores like Macy’s two years later.

Beauty of the Spectrum at dusk

Beauty of the Spectrum at dusk

The Spectrum center mall is surrounded by high-rise corporations and luxury apartments. Over the last decade, its beauty and booming tech job market have brought an influx of tech industry pros into the area.

With palm trees glittering with string lights, the Spectrum Center is gorgeous to visit at night

With palm trees glittering with string lights, the Spectrum Center is gorgeous to visit at night

In an interview with the Irvine Standard, Huolin Xin, associate professor of physics and astronomy at UC Irvine contends: “Irvine is the new Silicon Valley. If you want to attract talent, this is the place.”

The Spectrum Center itself took ten years to build. The mall is famous for its cameo in the “Mall of Miami” episode of the Disney Channel television series Austin and Ally.

The word spectrum itself brings to mind a band of colors, as seen in a rainbow. The neon spectrum sign, orange and yellows of the desert architecture, purple-pink sunsets, and year-round string lights play into the center’s name.

Inside, the store is quiet, cozy, warm, and comfortable

Inside, the store is quiet, cozy, warm, and comfortable

Like any resplendent Apple store with thick glass walls, foot traffic and chatter is immediately silenced once the heavy double doors close behind you.

Walls are not overstocked, owing to the store's minimalist feel

Walls are not overstocked, owing to the store’s minimalist feel

The building itself is a single-story rectangle with a minimalist feel that we’ve come to associate with Apple’s stores. The ceiling itself is light, bright, and beset with warm, overhead lighting.

The ceiling is light, bright, and spotlit

The ceiling is light, bright, and spotlit

The two ceiling-to-floor glass windows allow browsers to be swathed in sunlight from an L-shaped angle. The brick wall inside is smooth and light grey in color so as not to swallow the natural light.

Inside, the store is bright during the day

Inside, the store is bright during the day

The walls are lined with the newest, trendiest iPhone cases and MagSafe chargers. Phone cases are color coded for an aesthetically pleasing look.

Apple Irvine Spectrum from the outside

Apple Irvine Spectrum from the outside

There are a number of wooden cubes in the back for sitting while you wait to see your Apple genius for service, as well as a large television. The television displays adverts for new products as well as how-tos and dates for Apple learning seminars.

Rest your feet and watch adverts on the television at the back of the store

Rest your feet and watch adverts on the television at the back of the store

The television itself takes up most of the back wall, drawing the eye. A free-standing screen in front of the television displays the happenings and events at Apple for the day.

We know how hard it is not to fiddle with your favorite tech. Though masks are no longer required inside, complimentary hand sanitizer stations are located on every table to allow you to sanitize between products.

Wooden cubes provide ample seating

Wooden cubes provide ample seating

Consider signing up for one of the store’s Apple sessions and learn new skills from informative Creatives, or visit the Genius Bar to get hands-on technical support. Just be sure to make an appointment online, as you won’t be guaranteed a walk-in appointment during the store’s peak hours.

Like many Apple stores, there is a designated corner Pickup area for the collection of online orders along a lengthy, wooden desk.

Apple stores across Los Angeles

California has the most Apple locations in the U.S., with 54 Apple Store locations in California alone. There are fifteen Apple stores in the county of Los Angeles, with only a few of them boasting the freestanding, calming aesthetic instead of the sterile, hospital-like fluorescent feel of some of the smaller hole-in-the-wall storefronts within indoor shopping malls.

Other notable Apple stores in Los Angeles include The Grove location, another outdoor esplanade.

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