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Innovative Design Trends for Self-Storage Facilities 2015


By Bruce Jordan

The definition of innovate is “to introduce as or as if new; to make changes, do something in a new way.” We’re always looking for innovation in design, and self-storage is no stranger to this process. Ever-changing market forces, competition, zoning boards and a better understanding of customer needs combine to compel invention in our industry. Inspired design drives performance, so we progress onward and upward, taking self-storage to the next level.

As ours has evolved into a sophisticated business model, building design has evolved with it—and for good reason. Here’s a look at how today’s trends affect the look and feel of storage projects.

The Future of Storage Architecture

We’re always looking for ways to create more visually stimulating storage facilities and use building materials in imaginative ways. There’s a saying that form follows function, and while I agree, it doesn’t mean we can’t design bold forms and use color in new ways. I’ve never been asked to design a project that disappears into the backdrop. Instead, we seek to conceive sites that introduce the unexpected, create a lasting impression and set themselves apart from the competition while fitting into a community context. The goal is to be the future of self-storage, not the past.

The management office should be the center of visual attention from the fronting street and, hence, it should be the tallest architectural element. This tells customers where to enter the property and park. It also helps to put them at ease because they have a clear picture of the office and can see the interior from outside.

This is where clear rather than tinted glass comes into play. If it works for retail, it works for self-storage. Use of daylighting not only saves energy, it introduces natural light that’s warm and much more inviting than fluorescent.

Covered loading areas are being added to multi-story facilities. This makes the task of loading/unloading more user-friendly, convenient and safe. The use of enhanced overhead lighting, music and perhaps a nice planter or two will take the edge off of what would otherwise be an industrial look. When possible, make the loading areas clearly visible from the office so staff can monitor what’s going on and prospects can see how attractive and convenient they are. Finally, include a convenient storage area for push carts, but keep it well out of the maneuvering area in front of the elevators.

A bright and cheerful elevator lobby with easy access is appreciated by customers. If you have a three-story facility, two-thirds of your square footage is on the second and third floors, and a relatively high percentage of customers will need the elevators. Consider using large cabs (a 5,000-pound elevator will usually provide a sufficient cab size). You can also order elevators with a 9- or 10-foot-high cab for a small increase in price. This will add to loading flexibility.

Also think about adding bi-parting glass doors to elevator lobbies that open via motion sensors. This allows for hands-free entry and no doors to prop open.


Color is a tricky subject—often misunderstood, frequently changing and, well, subjective. There’s a wide range of styles and local preferences. Architectural style may dictate the use of color, whether it be an off-white for a Mission-style project in California, a terracotta tone in Santa Fe, N.M., or pastels in Miami. The local planning commission or city council may have strong opinions on the use of color, so it’s a good idea to understand any regional preferences before approaching officials with any plans.

Bridgeport Self Storage Case Study***

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