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Starbucks Tukwila, Washington

Starbucks “Reclamation Drive-Thru” in Tukwila, Washington, has opened a drive-thru location built out of recycled shipping containers. The store opened in December in Tukwila, Wash., and features four shipping containers. Three of the containers are 40 feet long and one is 20 feet long.

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-02-759x497 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

© Starbucks

Starbucks’s most adventurous project was conceived stateside. Located in Tukwila, Washington, “Reclamation Drive-Thru” is composed of four cargo containers and is meant to be transient (the landowner wanted a temporary facility). Beyond being environmentally responsible, the structure is “intended to be expressive and provocative,” says Anthony Perez, a senior concept design manager. “We’ve never done this before. It’s created a lot of conversation.”

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-05 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

© public domain

The Reclamation Drive-Thru is built out of four shipping containers and has been designed to LEED green building standards. Designed in-house by resident Starbucks architects, the container coffee shop is part of a growing initiative at Starbucks to encourage green building to reduce energy use and operational costs as well as to push the envelope on environmental design in retail. As with all things from the global coffee dispensary, the container drive-thru is Starbucksified and emanates the same trendy design aesthetic you’d expect from their other coffee shops.

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-13 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

© Starbucks, Tom Ackerman

“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,” said Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-15 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

© Starbucks, Tom Ackerman

Hutsun said Starbucks is experimenting with new design formats that reclaim the expired containers – taking them out of scrap yards and converting them into stores. The company has a focus on green building to help reduce operating costs and to lead by example and to push the environmental design envelope in retail.

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-18 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

© Starbucks

Starbucks Store Design Concept:

Sustainable design and build methodologies are part of our DNA.

We believe a coffeehouse should be a place to find connection. We believe it should fit seamlessly within its neighborhood. And we believe its environmental impact should be as minimal as possible.

Our store designs are rooted in our coffee heritage, and in our Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ community involvement and environmental stewardship goals. So our designs reflect the character of a store’s surrounding neighborhood and help reduce environmental impacts.

As our stores are built and renovated, we will source materials and employ craftsmen on a local basis and incorporate reused and recycled elements where possible. To guide our efforts, we’re using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® certification program as a benchmark for success. (LEED® is short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)

We aim to achieve LEED® certification globally for all new, company-owned stores beginning in late 2010.

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-20-759x570 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

© public domain

Each new and renovated store uses one of four design concepts.

  • Heritage coffeehouses reflect the mercantile roots of our first store in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market with worn wood, stained concrete or tile floors, metal stools and factory-inspired lighting. Large community tables, club chairs and wood blinds evoke a turn-of-the-last-century feeling.
  • Artisan stores echo the industrial past of urban markets, taking inspiration from the Modernism of the 1930s. This motif celebrates simple materials like exposed steel beams, masonry walls, factory casement glass and hand-polished woodwork in a creative gathering place for culture and the arts.
  • Regional Modern embodies a trend-setting style that is comfortable and welcoming. We use bright, loft-like, light-filled spaces punctuated with regionally inspired furniture and culturally relevant fabrics to create a calm and contemporary respite from the clamor of the fast-paced world.
  • Concept stores are unique environments created by our designers to explore innovations within the coffeehouse. We call them our “design sandboxes.” That sense of exploration is extended to everyone who visits, through daily coffee and tea cuppings, artistic events and community gatherings.
Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-21-759x569 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

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Starbucks by Anthony P. – Global Store Design senior manager:

I recently had the pleasure of cracking open my first built project for Starbucks: Reclamation Drive-Thru in Tukwila, Washington. This small project came at a perfect time here at Starbucks as we challenge ourselves to deliver LEED-certified stores across the US. Pending LEED certification, this project is just one step toward our goal of universally building all new company-owned stores to be LEED-certified Starbucks Stores. I wanted it to be green, thought provoking and sustainable – the sort of project that stirs chatter. I think we got it.

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-construction-process-02 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

construction process – © public domain

So, what is Reclamation Drive-Thru? The store was inspired by the view (captured in the image above) outside the window of our headquarters on first avenue in Seattle, as the Seattle Times rightly reported last week. Shipping containers source our coffees and teas from around the world. But many end up in scrap yards once they reach their average 20 year lifespan. Reclamation Drive-Thru was inspired by a desire to help keep items used throughout our supply chain, like old shipping containers, out of the waste stream. The result: a 450 square foot drive-thru and walk-up store made from four end-of-life-cycle shipping containers. One small 20-foot container holds garbage, recycling and storage, but other than that, the whole store is contained within the shells of four containers that have been reclaimed, refurnished, renewed and revived. And it works!

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-construction-process-04 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

construction process – © public domain

Savings go beyond storage containers, as well. The store reduces material use with simplified, environmental signage. The building itself serves as a sign post, while form painting on the asphalt intuitively guides customers into the drive-thru. Rainwater collected from the roof of the drive-thru is used to nourish surrounding landscaping. Xeriscaping (selecting plants that naturally require less water) helps reduce water consumption. And in the event that the store needs a new location, the entire structure can be disassembled and moved.

We are now talking about ways to extend the thinking and learning from this project into other areas, perhaps in prefabrication projects or in exterior furniture and accessories. I’m not sure where this all will land, but the launch pad has now been successfully cleared and the resulting conversation has been positive. Our global footprint presents powerful possibilities to replicate and scale our green building efforts.

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-site-plan Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

site plan – © Starbucks

So where from do we go from here? A decidedly new way of thinking about how large our stand alone buildings could or should be, how they could look and function and about the possibility of off-site fabrication and more. These questions are exciting design challenges to bring to light, and we’re looking for creative, brand appropriate and business-savvy ways to solve them, while honoring our commitment to reducing our environmental footprint. Could sustainable design continue to influence our brand, our mission and our size? We think so.

Starbucks-Tukwila-Washington-By-Global-Store-Development-In-House-Architects-render-02 Starbucks Tukwila, Washington / Global Store Development In-House Architects

render – © Starbucks

Project Data:

Project name:Starbucks Tukwila, Washington
Location: 10100 East Marginal Way South, Tukwila, Washington 98168, United States
Coordinates: 47.512551,-122.293409
Type: Restaurant / Coffee shop / Cafe
Materials: Steel and Shipping Container – 40 feet & 20 feet
Gross floor area: 448 sq.ft
Project Year: 2012
Opening Date: December, 13 2011
Status: Built
Completion Year: 2011


  • 2012 – Architectural Record Awards – Good Design is Good Business Awards
  • LEED Awards – Pending LEED certification

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Starbucks Coffee Company
Architects: Starbucks Global Store Development In-House Architects – 2401 Utah Ave S, Seattle, Washington 98134, United States
Project Team: all listed below are employees of Starbucks Coffee Company

  • Arthur Rubinfeld-President Global Development
  • Anthony Perez
  • Tom Ackerman-Director of Creative Programs
  • Harmony Cooper-Architectural Specialist
  • Scot Hearl-Industrial Designer Specialist
  • Lionel Sussman-Director Global Concepts
  • Ryan Slemons-Real Estate, Concepts
  • Eric Hopp-Construction Manager
  • Stephen Gibson, AIA-High Performance Building Team

Civil Engineer: David Evans Associates
MEP: Rensch Engineering
General contractor: DB Contractors-Jake Hatfield, Project Manager-Jeremy Habelman, Superintendent
Text Description: © Courtesy of Starbucks
Images: © Starbucks, Tom Ackerman, Benjamin Minnick

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