Multi-Story Storage: Building 'Up' Allows a Washington Developer to Maximize Land and Highlight Upscale Elements

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Due to its proximity to residentially zoned property on two sides, the project was limited in terms of height and appearance. The Gilroys had to complete a nine-month design-review process, during which every item of site planning and construction design was highly scrutinized by city planners. Thanks to the residential nature of their branded style, the project was approved with few changes and in a relatively short time. They received the green light to move to construction submittal in December 2008.

Construction Begins

Permits were released by the city in August 2009 and construction began in earnest. First, a soldier-pile retaining wall was constructed at the south end of the site to complete site grading. Complicating matters, the state of Washington had just completed a multi­million-dollar expansion of 1-405 that included a massive retaining wall immediately adjacent to the project's east property line. This necessitated driving the piles for the storage retaining wall 30 feet deeper than normal, adding more than $50,000 to the project. The poor, peat-laden soils with high-water content required 79 geopiers, or underground borings filled with rock, to support the monolithic 10-inch slab-on-grade foundation for the four-story part of the building.

Soon after construction began, the rainy season hit and the water-saturated soils on the site continued to pose a problem. Three wells were installed around the property, pumping out thousands of gallons of ground water just to keep the foundation walls dry. To fight future water intrusion, underground foundation walls were treated with an elastomeric coating and covered with drain tile before being backfilled with 100 percent free-draining rock by the site work contractor.

Since the building was so large, staging area was at a premium, which forced the general contractor to carefully phase the construction between the north and south halves of the building. This way, each contractor had space to work without stumbling over or holding up another trade.

Exterior Design

When the Gilroys entered the self-storage industry a decade ago, the goal was to create a brand with features typical of residential architecture, and this new facility is no exception. First, the building was made to appear less massive by breaking it up into two- and four-story segments. Next, the facade along the frontage was divided into modulating segments, each of which ranges from 30 feet to 80 feet long and approximately 10 feet deep. Each facade also features three recesses in the block, painted green to emulate the appearance of metal roll-up doors.

The exterior of the building consists of a primarily split-face scored and smooth-faced concrete modular block (CMU), with some vertical-ribbed metal siding. The CMU was painted to contrast the the metal siding. Along the west and east faces of the building, there’s an alternation between smooth and broken-face CMU and emerald-green siding. The Gilroys chose to apply a more expensive, emerald-green standing-seam metal roof to the two- and four-story building segments, as well as the two towers. This presents a polished appearance from I-405, from which the roof is visible.

A 40-foot-by-50-foot covered loading bay was designed for the center of the building, immediately adjacent to the main lobby. There are four elevators: two in the main lobby, one at the south end of the site adjacent to a second, smaller loading area, and one that exclusively serves the wine-storage area.

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