Self-Storage Design Is Community Outreach in Disguise
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 10/31/2013



 

A Guest Installment by Molly Bilker, Editorial Intern, Inside Self-Storage

As I’ve mentioned previously, I'm a self-storage consumer, and my internship with ISS has given me a new perspective on the industry. As a college student, I spend half my life in Arizona and the other half in Colorado, and nothing appeals to me less in either world than a flat, gray concrete building with brightly colored roll-up doors. Fortunately, this old-school design concept emphasizing form above function is eroding in favor of much more pleasing designs that offer a multitude of space options and customer amenities.

The truth is, if you want your storage facility to draw its full potential of customers, aesthetics and public perception can't be ignored. Similar to how company involvement in community service and charitable work can say a lot about a business, innovative and attractive design is a form of community outreach in disguise.

Let’s face it, industry news items often discuss community objections to proposed self-storage development projects. This is frequently due to preconceived perceptions consumers have about the industry and the way services are presented. Planning and zoning boards certainly have a lot to say regarding facility design, and municipalities increasingly want storage to blend in with its surroundings.

As a result, facilities have increasingly softened their industrial coolness by projecting warmth through neutral color palettes and earth tones. I believe self-storage facilities should be as varied as the cities in which they’re located, whether Phoenix, Denver, Baltimore or Toronto. Embracing the character of the local area will no doubt ingratiate a business with its community.

Where I go to school in Arizona, for example, desert tones reign. Tans paired with turquoise and dark-red colors match the thematic imagery of the area. In addition to color, choice of building materials and accents can also enhance a facility’s community aesthetics. In Colorado—especially in central Denver, where I'm from—brick may be the most appealing material. Wood accents may integrate best in rural areas, and painting a facility with dark greens can help it blend with the lush foliage in the state. Finding creative ways to incorporate the natural colors and materials of an area, while staying true to company branding, can result in an attractive facility likely to appeal to customers.

A recent ISS image gallery offers numerous examples of great facility design including Ferndale Storage near Little Rock, Ark., which emphasizes its closeness to the Ozark Mountains by using natural rock columns, and Mesquite Self-Storage in Palm Springs, Calif., which incorporates the state's natural palm trees and xeriscaping against its orange branding.

Another gallery examining “Fresh Trends in Self-Storage” also highlights recent projects from some of the industry's leading building manufacturers. The facilities showcased are vastly different, highlighting new trends, unique designs, and a fresh take on how amazing self-storage can look.

From conceptual design to maintaining curb appeal after construction, self-storage can be beautiful. And when operators take the time to embrace the aesthetics of their surroundings and incorporate those elements into their facilities, they do a service to their communities.

Molly Bilker is a sophomore journalism major at the Downtown Phoenix campus of Arizona State University. She is interning with the VIRGO Business Solutions Network, writing for Inside Self-Storage. She also writes for the “Downtown Devil,” a student-run, online publication for downtown Phoenix, where she has assumed the position of blogs editor and copy edits. Molly can be reached at mbilker@vpico.com.