Gallery: Starbucks Opens New Reclamation Drive Thru Made From Recycled ...

Frankly we're happy that the coffee giant is jumping on the green bandwagon as their growing interest can help push sustainability and design further.
Frankly we're happy that the coffee giant is jumping on the green bandwagon as their growing interest can help push sustainability and design further.

Inspiration for the shipping container drive thru came from the company’s use of the containers to ship their coffee and tea from sources around the world. Rather than let the containers wallow after moving their goods, the brilliant minds in Seattle thought to put them to good use and so the Reclamation Drive Thru was brewed up. So far, it’s just a one-off shop, but it could serve as the prototype for future retail locations.

Although it’s not certified yet, the company hopes to achieve LEED soon, which will make the shop the first LEED building in Tukwila. They’ve reduced signage by using the actual building as the sign and also integrated rainwater harvesting and xeriscaping to minimize water consumption. Frankly we’re happy that the coffee giant is jumping on the green bandwagon as their growing interest can help push sustainability and design further. We can’t particularly say we’re please that the latest shop is a drive-thru, but at least they included other strategies to reduce the impact.

The new coffee shop opened on December 13th and is plying Washingtonians with their Christmas Blend as we speak. We had a chance to check in with representatives from Starbucks to find out more about their newest store. Read on to get the skinny (as in latte) on what could soon be the standard Starbucks coffee shop.

INHABITAT: What inspired the use of shipping containers for the new store?

Alan Hilowitz: Our store designs reflect Starbucks’ core mission as a gathering place for the communities we serve, as well as a commitment to reduce our environmental footprint and use our scale for good. Our designers were inspired to create this store both as a result of the shipyard that can be seen out the back windows of our headquarters in South Seattle, as well as a desire to recycle the same kind of shipping containers that transport our coffees and teas around the world.”

INHABITAT: Who was the architect or designer that created the project?

Alan Hilowitz: Starbucks designed the store in-house. Tony Gale, Starbucks’ corporate architect (former Seattle City Architect), served as the architect of record.

INHABITAT: What about LEED certification?

Alan Hilowitz: The store is designed to be LEED certified but has not achieved certification yet.

INHABITAT: What are some of the strategies the store made use of to try and achieve LEED certification?

Alan Hilowitz: Some the strategies Starbucks used in designing the store to achieve LEED certification included: water efficient irrigation; energy performance optimization; use of green power; construction waste management; recycled content; low-emitting materials; and overall innovation and design.

INHABITAT: Was this a prototype or a one-off? Any plans for more prefabricated shipping container stores throughout the country?

Alan Hilowitz: At this time, this store is one-of-a-kind. However, we are viewing this as a prototype which could be replicated in other locations

We also had a chance to hear from Starbucks’ corporate architect, Tone Gale III, who was also the architect of record for the project.

INHABITAT: What was the most interesting thing your team learned from building this project?

Tony Gale III: We were able to open our minds to the use of very common elements destined for the landfill as structure for a high-quality, drive-thru coffee house design – essentially creating an industrial beacon for sustainable thinking.

INHABITAT: Most Starbucks shops include a drive through window for your customers’ convenience, although this encourages people to idle their cars unnecessarily. Is Starbucks working to encourage anti-idling behavior or making use of any other incentives to get people to minimize their cars running?

Tony Gale III: Between one-third and one-half of Starbucks stores in the U.S. have a drive-thru. Starbucks aims to encourage anti-idling behavior primarily through speed of service.

+ Starbucks

Images ©Tom Ackerman, Starbucks


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  1. 6wings August 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Great! Now if they would only get with the program and serve Organic Coffee & foods, they’d be spot on.

  2. Manuelita C February 1, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Con mis compañerod de trabajo en siempre vamos a Starbucks los martes, espero que algún día los locales en Chile sean como estos.

    Y es muy bueno el blog :)

  3. BetsyV January 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    My question is, how many times have the containers been used for shipping coffee (or ANY products) BEFORE they are retired? Hopefully it’s not another example of one-time use.

  4. maryj January 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    attractive 2nd chance that should inspire more use of containers as a building option.

  5. Ma Hen January 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Nice that they reused the containers…trying to appear to be “green”. Fact is, it is STILL a drive-thru & therefore a major cause of pollution. Another case of greenwashing. Consumers are far more savvy than they appear to believe!

  6. MatterArchitecture December 19, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    It is a good concept and one better seen in a project called Container City done in Puebla Mexico. A mix use application done about six years ago.

  7. Kreddible Trout December 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    old news that crapbucks is capitalizing on. this has been a progressive trend for years among independent businesses for years. independant businesses that crapbucks would put out of business in a heartbeat.

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