Street trees enhance the sense of place at Starbucks Support Centre in Seattle
Starbucks is a global coffeehouse chain, with an exceptionally strong brand identity. The Starbucks mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time”. In keeping with this vision, project designers, Swift Company, used the Citygreen soil cell system, Stratavault, to assist with the revitalisation of the Starbucks Support Centre, located at the south end of downtown Seattle.
As well as being the world headquarters for Starbucks, the Starbucks Centre is the largest multi-tenant building by floor space in Seattle, spanning over 200,000m2. It is one of the biggest and oldest buildings in the area, and part of the city’s industrial district.
As part of the site’s rejuvenation, Starbucks recently added a Starbucks café to the front of the building. The café activated the space, providing a social hub and a sense of place, which Starbucks were keen to build on.
One of Starbucks’ core values is “Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome”. The aim was to use new trees to complement existing healthy street trees, making the site more colourful and inviting. Trees are known to increase feelings of happiness and have a positive impact on mood. This aligns with the Starbucks ethos, which is based on happiness, inclusiveness and community.
In addition to their placemaking attributes, street trees also have many other benefits – like reducing urban heat, wind and temperature, which were important aims of this project. The table below summarises just some of the benefits of street trees.
The Citygreen team worked closely with Swift Company in Seattle to bring the vision to life. Citygreen’s Stratavault soil cell system was chosen for its ability to supply trees with a healthy soil root volume, which concrete sidewalks don’t provide. The high engineering load rating of Stratavault soil cells was ideal for creating support around the sidewalk, giving the trees the best possible chance of growing to full potential.
Stratavault soil cells also offer flexibility in design and construction, which was pivotal for this project – particularly when working in confined spaces. The fact that Stratavault is 100% recycled for sustainability is also appealing to many socially responsible stakeholders.
The main challenge for the landscape architect was building a tree canopy within a heavily engineered zone, with concrete above and below. Installing the Stratavault soil cells beneath a disability ramp was particularly challenging, requiring precise planning and execution.
While the landscape architect was familiar with the Stratavault soil cell system, the landscape contractor and general contractor were not. The U.S. based Citygreen team provided on-site technical support and training during the bidding and construction process – answering questions, assisting with pricing, and overseeing the Stratavault installation with the contractors. This ensured the architect’s vision for large soil volumes and healthy street trees with deep roots was achieved – and that the project ran smoothly throughout.
To date, the project has been very successful in activating the Seattle site – adding value, enhancing placemaking, and infusing the area with lush greenery. Swift Company’s landscape architects did an outstanding job, presenting an amazing avenue of trees to integrate the built and natural environment. The trees are in fantastic condition with deep roots, and the project team are thrilled with the outcome.