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Apple\'s 32-foot glass cube sheds its sheets

Construction workers on the site of Apple's soon-to-open flagship retail location in Midtown Manhattan haven taken the wraps off the 32-foot glass cube that marks store's entranceway, revealing a dangling, backlit Apple logo that appears to float inside the structure.

The informal unveiling began at about 7:50 PM ET on Wednesday evening, as workers raised a scissor-lift to the sides of the cube and slowly began to peel back sheets of black plastic material that had been concealing its design, according to ifoAppleStore, which is offering detailed coverage of the store opening.

"The black plastic wrapping has come off the cube at the store, and it revealed a surprise — a huge white, floating Apple logo inside," wrote Gary Allen, the Web site's publisher. "The face of the logo is milky white and about 12-inches thick. It appears to float about half-way back in the 32-foot cube, and about one-third down from the top, suspended from the top of the cube by a substantial stainless steel pole."

Inside the cube is spiral glass staircase and a glass-enclosed, cylindrical elevator that will transport patrons from the plaza outside the GM building at 767 Fifth Avenue at 59th Street to the underground 20,000-square-foot Apple retail haven.

"Besides the unusual elevator design, and the staircase that curves downward around it, the cube has another interesting feature — it's all open to the lower floor," Allen wrote. "That is, you can walk up to the outside glass of the cube, look through and see right down into the store itself."

Some Apple staffers who reportedly watched the "peeling" of the cube were Karl Backus, an architect with BCJ who had served as project director on other Apple retail projects, and Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of retail. According to ifoAppleStore, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is also rumored to be in town.

At about 3:30 AM ET the giant back-lit Apple logo flickered on for the first time so company executives could see its effect. It was quickly turned off, only to come back on permanently about 45 minutes later, according to Allen.

(ifoAppleStore photo. View the cube unveiling photo gallery and coverage.)

"Within a few minutes additional lights came on — small round lights set in the perimeter of the cube, and pointing upward. They lend some definition to the cube's structure, which otherwise at night is not easy to see." he wrote on ifoAppleStore. "The glass of the cube creates various reflections of the logo, which is lit on both the front and back. Looking from the front of the cube, you see the front of the logo, and then the reflection of the back of the logo."

Apple is holding a press briefing at the store at 10:00 AM ET on Thursday morning to allow analysts and members of the media to perform a walk-through of the store before its official opening Friday at 6:00 PM ET.