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Thursday, June 16, 2011, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Photos show major renovations in progress at Apple's Fifth Ave store

This week, Apple began construction to replace the iconic 32-foot glass cube at its heavily trafficked retail store on Fifth Avenue, and AppleInsider offers a first look at the work in progress.

Those who pass the storefront will encounter a temporary wall of grey plywood fronting the street. A small gap between the walls serves as a pathway for customers to still access the staircase that leads to the store below.

On the way to the staircase, customers can see stacks of materials and temporary materials associated with the construction. The materials and workers are there to begin work on a $6.7 million project to replace the glass cube that began this week.

The impressive structure has become something of a New York City landmark since it was unveiled in May of 2006. A recent study found that it is one of the most photographed locations in the entire city.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is said to have personally designed and even paid for the hollow glass structure that serves as the store's entrance. The latest renovations are not the first time the structure has been tweaked: Shortly before its unveiling in 2006, Jobs was said to have been unhappy with some of the materials used to construct the cube, and last-minute changes were made.

The all-glass design has even inspired other projects from Apple, including its megastore in Shanghai that opened last summer. Like the Fifth Avenue store, its entrance is a staircase enclosed in glass, though the one in China is a cylinder.

Apple's interest in glass will even extend to its planned 12,000-employee campus at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. When pitching the concept to the local city council, Jobs remarked that the building will look like a "spaceship."

"There's not a straight piece of glass in this building," he said. "We've used our experience in building retail buildings all over the world. We know how to make the biggest pieces of glass for architectural use."

Some of those experiences gained from the last five years since the Fifth Avenue store first opened will undoubtedly play a part as Apple partakes in its $6.7 million replacement of the iconic glass cube. In addition to the cube, Apple also plans to remove protective bollards, install new pavers around the perimeter, and remove and install surrounding water drains.

Photos of the construction currently underway are included below. Thanks to AppleInsider reader Ryan for the pictures.

Cube 1


Cube 2


Cube 3


Cube 4


Cube 5


Cube 6


Cube 7