Ubiquitous coffee retailer Starbucks has always been innovative, but now they are changing things up once again with a new commitment to the design of their stores. The chain has promised to earn LEED certification for all of its new stores, and is experimenting with more unique, site-specific architecture.

One Starbucks location used to look pretty much like any other, but all that is changing with the new locations that have been built in the Netherlands, Japan, and America. A new Amsterdam location makes creative use of an old bank vault, with oak furnishings, a mural honoring the Dutch coffee trade, Delft blue tiles, and more.

The two shops in Japan are equally unique and feature beautiful design elements that tie them to their respective cultures and locations. The Fukuoka City park location bears FSC-certified cedar siding and was “purposefully nestled into a grove of trees, to help it blend into the environment.”It is also Japan’s first LEED-NC retail project, bearing a host of sustainable elements, like on-site composting and an exterior shade screen to help manage energy usage.

Here in the States, Starbucks has built an ambitious new facility in Tukwila, Washington , dubbed the “Reclamation Drive-Thru.” The building is made from four cargo containers and can even be disassembled and relocated. It’s great to see such a large and successful corporation committing to green design, and even tailoring their retail spaces to fit the location in some cases.

At Leslie Saul & Associates, our Boston architecture firm is a member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and we are proud to be LEED Accredited Professionals. We love these new Starbucks retail spaces because they capture not only our passion for green design, but also the sense of individuality which we think is so important to good architecture.

While it can be challenging to take on each project in a completely new and original way, it’s important to us to make spaces that combine the best of environmental consciousness, usability for the occupants, and a specific sense of place that only comes from a deep understanding of the site and the company. To see some examples of our retail space design, check out the Gallery.

What do you think about the new buildings Starbucks has been rolling out? Do you appreciate it when large companies take the effort to customize their retail locations?

Source and photos: Architectural Record