There’s something special about Starbucks. You can walk into any location in the country or abroad and feel right at home—as if you were stepping into your own neighborhood Starbucks. However, the coffee giant is experimenting with an entirely new type of coffee house that’s all about sustainability, local materials, and small footprints.
Starbucks is opening a new store in Colorado this week that’s a complete re-imagining of the coffee hut as a “modern modular,” LEED-certified drive-thru and walk-up shop. Unlike a typical Starbucks coffee house that’s built for lounging, the company’s new pilot restaurant is a small prefabricated structure that revolves around the environment, localism, market growth, low-cost, and low-risk expandability.
At a mere 500 square feet, the location features a prefab, modular set of rooms that are just big enough to house three to five employees along with all of the coffee making apparatuses necessary to execute a full Starbucks menu. There’s no dining room or space for customers to lounge around with their laptops.
“To both build scale while having things be locally relevant, that’s really a designer’s problem to solve,” said Anthony Perez, a senior concept design manager. “It’s a really, really challenging problem.”
Despite challenges posed by the coffee giant’s values, it really is a model for localism. Its high-end facades are constructed out of local materials sourced within a 500-mile radius. This has also helped the building achieve its LEED-certification.
“What we’ve done is standardize the interior,” Perez added. “But what we want to be able to do is, as people are going around this prefab, we want the materials on that exterior to feel like it’s part of the local environment.”
The facade has also been designed to be just as functional as it is attractive. Instead of utilizing glowing signs and a light in the hallway to attract early morning commuters, the building takes advantage of light to become an environmentally friendly lantern of sorts.
The new Colorado location isn’t Starbucks’ first experiment with Eco-friendly, prefab design. The company has already opened a location in Seattle that’s made from reclaimed shipping containers.