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Warehouses rise up to serve downtown

Multistory industrial buildings provide the best chance at keeping up with the rapid growth of e-commerce in North America.

August 08, 2018 |
Ware Malcomb's multistory warehouse prototype

Ware Malcomb's multistory warehouse facility prototype creates a "warehouse on top of a warehouse" to increase leasable space without sacrificing functionality. Image: Ware Malcomb.

The rise of e-commerce has uprooted the retail status quo and created logistical obstacles never before seen on such a large scale. Among the thorniest logistical issues that everyone from Amazon to Walmart is working to solve: last-mile delivery.

People have become accustomed to buying just about anything they need online with a few clicks. And thanks to services such as Amazon’s free two-day delivery and, in some cases, one-hour delivery, customers are used to expeditiously receiving their purchases. But in many urban areas, there just isn’t enough land to facilitate the industrial warehouse space necessary to satisfy last-mile delivery.

That is, unless the warehouses are built vertically. Ware Malcomb has created a multistory warehouse facility prototype that creates a “warehouse on top of a warehouse” to increase leasable space without sacrificing functionality. These multistory warehouses will be “fully functional, divisible, and leasable without compromising the typical tenant’s operational requirements,” says Jay Todisco, AIA, LEED AP, Executive Vice President with Ware Malcomb.


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The prototype allows for full-sized, 53-foot-long tractor trailers to operate on two levels and provides parking space for hundreds of cars, all while increasing rentable space. It forgoes large, expensive circular ramps and instead opts for straight, two-way ramps to connect an upper and lower truck yard. Between the two truck yards is an employee parking deck that separates truck and auto circulation and creates a queuing area on a mezzanine level for last-mile delivery vehicles.

The building itself is
designed with an independent steel structure and non-load-bearing concrete wall panels. The steel structure and wall panels can be fabricated simultaneously and then erected sequentially to shorten construction time.

The size and the number of stories for a specific facility will reflect the location’s proximity to a port and the surrounding area’s density. The more dense an area is, the taller the building will need to be. In urban cores, for example, facilities will hover around 250,000 sf across two or three stories, with high-speed freight elevators to expedite the flow of goods. Buildings closer to a port will be larger, around 500,000 sf, but will require fewer stories.

In order to be successful, says Todisco, multistory warehouses must meet the end user’s functional requirements, be economical to build, and have the ability to be easily modified to varying site configurations.

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