One of the project niches that we have is self-storage. I fell into this niche, you could say, because it was part of the portfolio when we acquired LZT architects. In the early days of that merger, we had some “ivory tower” employees, I will call them, who poo-pooed self storage because it did not have the flashy design appeal of other project types. I disagreed, but not outspokenly, because I have always felt that any project can be made incrementally better by our firm, no matter how practical or mundane it seems.
I have never put much stock in appearing on the front of magazines, although I certainly like to be. And we have award winning projects and projects that have been published. I love those projects. Its just that I don’t love them more than other projects. I view our firm as a business consulting firm. If we can make our clients more successful, then we are successful. We need to be solving business problems for our clients, and we can do that in a big way in self-storage.
As I applied myself to learning more about self-storage, I found that it is a fertile ground for architectural problem solving and much satisfaction can be garnered by applying design thought. True, for some non-climate controlled self storage (especially in rural areas) the architect’s contribution is limited by the client, but on the other end of the scale the multi-story climate controlled storage in urban areas is indeed a worthy challenge for an architect. At the same time, self-storage is ripe for improvement and innovation. My multi-family background has served us well in approaching 4-story storage especially, because we have found many competitors are well over-designing their structures creating significant extra cost for their clients.
Storage buildings are quite unique in the fact that they are not for people, they are for stuff. And that stuff as a whole is very stable, it does not turn-over much. This changes the design formula in many ways. You should not design a storage building like an office. The battle to train mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and structural engineers on the unique nature of storage is unending.
More to come soon. If you want to get in touch please let me know! Thanks for reading!