There is nothing cookie-cutter about Starbucks’ renovated store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. The 15-year-old store has undergone a complete makeover, from the furniture to the lighting to the flooring. The new environment reflects Starbucks’ commitment to build stores that reflect the character of the surrounding community. Warm and earthy, with industrial accents and commissioned art, the SoHo location feels real and authentic.
“Everything from the chairs to the smaller cafe tables were chosen to create a more intimate environment for our customers,” said Tim Pfeiffer, senior VP global design, Starbucks Coffee Co., Seattle. “There is soft seating in every seat, with the exception of the bar stools.”
The design, done in-house, draws upon SoHo’s rich heritage and its vibrant arts and cultural scene. Among the visual highlights are two large paintings by New York “messaging” artist Peter Tunney. In keeping with Starbucks’ overall mission, words such as “gratitude” and “peace “ are integrated into the collage-styled paintings. A series of evocative black and white photos behind the counter show scenes from the communities scattered around the globe where Starbucks’ beans are farmed.
“For the first time, we are providing a visual story of where our coffee comes from,” Pfeiffer said.
GREEN: The store is one of 12 pilot locations worldwide that Starbucks is opening as part of its participation in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Volume Certification pilot program. In keeping with LEED standards, the design emphasizes energy and water conservation, locally sourced materials, and reused and recycled elements.
Small plaques identifying specific green design and construction elements are located throughout the store. The plaques identify specific green-design elements and also offer related tips for consumers.
“They’re subtle,” said Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact, Starbucks. “We want to inform customers about our own environmental efforts, and we also want to motivate them to make environmentally responsible choices once they leave our stores.”
Hanna emphasized that LEED certification in and of itself has never been Starbucks’ goal.
“Our goal is creating sustainable and engaging stores that are relevant to the community, and then getting third-party recognition for our efforts,” he said.
As to the extra cost involved in building green, Hanna estimated a 1% premium in design and construction costs. He noted, however, that the extra upfront cost is outweighed by “massive” operational savings.