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Starbucks pilot program rolls out small, modular stores

Initiative greenlights drive-through facilities with local flavor, LEED certifications.

February 22, 2013 |
This suburban Seattle Starbucks was built with shipping containers.

Coffee giant Starbucks is rolling out mini-stores with maximum local flavor, as part of an international pilot program. Each location will be ~500 sf, created from modular units but clad in materials that reflect the local environment. Façades may incorporate reclaimed lumber, corrugated materials, parts of shipping containers, or other "craftsmanlike" approaches, including illuminated exterior "art panels." The push for smaller and more sustainable stores is part of the company's overall Shared Planet Initiative.

Starbucks' President of Global Development, architect Arthur Rubenfeld, is supervising the roll-out, which reflects the evolution of Starbucks as a destination. The model differs from the "neighborhood coffeehouse" vibe, and is targeted at drive-through and walk-up customers. If successful, the  initiative will allow Starbucks to expand into sites that are too small to sustain one of its traditional stores. The company's 14 architectural offices will design the LEED certified units, each of which will be staffed by three to five employees.

The prototype for the effort opened last year in Tukwila, a Seattle suburb, and was created from repurposed shipping containers. Containers were also used for a new store in Northglenn, Colo., clad in reclaimed Wyoming snow fencing.


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