On any given day, travelers passing the Port of Seattle can see

On any given day, travelers passing the Port of Seattle can see hundreds of stacked steel cargo boxes. These boxes have traveled thousands of miles around the world, carrying just about anything you can imagine. Now, a few of them are carrying just about any kind of coffee you can imagine.A few weeks ago, Starbucks opened up a new store in Tukwila near Boeing Field made out of four such shipping containers. The store, a drive-thru located on the corner of East Marginal Way and South Norfolk Street, is the first of its kind for the coffee company.”Our designers were inspired to create this store both as a result of the shipyard that can be seen out the back windows of our headquarters in South Seattle, as well as a desire to recycle the same kind of shipping containers that transport our coffees and teas around the world,” said Alan Hilowitz, a spokesman for Starbucks.Starbucks may have earned itself some nice PR for its odd choice of building material. But making structures out of shipping containers, a practice known as cargotecture, is anything but new.Joel Egan, co-founder of Seattle’s HyBrid Architecture + Assembly has been designing with container boxes since his company’s inception in 2003. One of HyBrid’s creations, the c3600 office building in Georgetown, is, according to Egan, the largest piece of cargotecture in the western U.S.Like other cargotecture advocates, Egan is quick to play up the benefits of designing with containers. The big boxes are recyclable, easy to move, and can last up to 400 years. Less obvious, he says, are the emotional benefits.”It can be poetic to have this box, which is a global traveler, and bring it to rest on a site where it can have respite and people can see it,” says Egan.Seattle certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on cargotecture. The shipping containers can be seen everywhere from an Army base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to a Travelodge in the London exurbs.Starbucks isn’t even the first coffee company to get into cargotecture. Two coffee houses in Austin, Texas, have been built out of single container boxes by the firm designSTUDIOmodern.Despite making inroads into commercial buildings, cargotecture doesn’t figure to replace the standard home anytime soon. “These [shipping containers] are not appropriate for affordable housing,” says Egan. The amount of extra steel needed to add doors, windows, and vents along with the costs of appliances can make carogtecture homes more expensive than conventional ones. At least for now.Despite carrying Caleb Hannan’s byline, this post was actually written by intern Benjamin Taylor. Follow The Daily Weekly on Facebook and Twitter.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Washington health officials discuss response to new COVID variant

Things will be handled with Omicron variant similar to the Delta variant.

File photo
As new COVID-19 variant looms, vaccination disparities linger in King County

County data shows gaps among age, geography and race.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn
King County Councilmember Dunn will challenge Rep. Kim Schrier for U.S. Congress seat

The current County Councilmember would be following in his late mother’s footsteps

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
King County and Port of Seattle to collaborate on waste-to-fuel study

The study is aimed at identifying logistics of developing aviation fuel out of municipal garbage.

file photo
Department of Health announces QR code verification program to prove vaccination status

WA Verify is intended to make vaccine verification simpler and more efficient.

Mid-afternoon traffic on northbound Interstate 5 on Nov. 22 near Everett. Dan Bates/The Herald
Thanksgiving traffic forecast is heavier than pre-pandemic

Drivers and ferry riders could be in for long waits, depending on when they go.

Elaine Simons, former foster mother of Jesse Sarey, addresses a crowd outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Aug. 24, 2020, moments after Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson was formally charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the May 31, 2019, shooting death of 26-year-old Sarey in front of a north Auburn convenience store. File photo
Jesse Sarey’s family wants people to know who the real Jesse was

He was killed by Auburn police officer Jeffrey Nelson in 2019.

Comparison map between current district map and proposed draft. (Screenshot from King County’s website)
King County proposes redistricting map, asks for feedback from public

Public invited to comment at November 30 public hearing.

Patti Cole-Trindall
King County Executive appoints Patti Cole-Tindall as interim sheriff

Cole-Tindall has a background in the sheriff’s office and county government.

A Snoqualmie Officer was involved in a shooting Tuesday night, Nov. 16. Photo courtesy of the Bellevue Police Department.
Man killed by Snoqualmie Police was homeless, living in car

The 33-year-old man who was killed by a Snoqualmie police officer late… Continue reading

The Washington State Redistricting Commission held a public meeting over Zoom on Monday night to draw the final legislative and congressional district boundaries. Most of the five-hour session was spent in "caucus meetings" which were unavailable to the viewing public. (Washington State Redistricting Commission)
Bipartisan commission fails to draw new political boundaries

For the first time in state history, the Supreme Court will define new congressional and legislative districts.

Homeless encampment in a wooded area in Auburn on Aug. 27, 2021. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
What the history of homelessness in our region can teach us about our current crisis

A talk with the author of “Skid Road: On the Frontier of Health and Homelessness in an American City.”