Advancements in Self-Storage Site Design: Projects Evolve Through Technology Sustainability and More

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By Kenneth Carrell

Self-storage has evolved into a more sophisticated product since the first facilities were built in the late 1960s, when they weren’t much more than garages. Now modern materials, new construction techniques and advanced technology have elevated self-storage sites into safe and secure places for customers to leave their belongings. Let’s take a look at how facility design has changed to enhance curb appeal and create a more secure and sustainable environment.

Onsite Security

Self-storage security has come a long way since the development of first-generation facilities. The overall facility design, including the placement of buildings, the manager's apartment, the entrance and exit all play a factor.

This aerial shot of Quartz Drive Self-Storage in Auburn, Calif., shows how a “fortress”-style layout maximizes space and enhances security. One design element that has dramatically changed is the manager’s residence. Not that many years ago, the facility office had an apartment attached as housing for the manager. It was thought that having staff live on site meant better security for the facility. But that's not always the case, particularly with today's large projects. More and more, the manager apartment is being eliminated.

Instead, facilities are being built with better security systems and components. With more advanced cameras that can record at night and better computer systems to record data, security in modern self-storage can be even better than that of some banks.

Security considerations have also changed the way developers and architects think about the overall facility layout. It used to be that sites were graded as flat as possible to maximize their potential. Now developers try to take advantage the existing site topography. This has an added benefit of insulating a large portion of the building for climate control.

Many developers and architects these days like to surround the site with buildings in a “fortress” style. This gives you a 12-to-14-foot-high perimeter security wall vs. a little 7- or 8-foot wall. By arranging storage buildings in this manner, potential security breeches to the gate areas are closed.

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