What better to do with a tired, old cliché than to re-purpose it?
Large, speculative light industrial, manufacturing, distribution, warehouse and e-commerce buildings are commonly referred to as “boxes”, for obvious reasons. They range from tiny to over one million square feet, termed front park/front load; front park/rear load, cross dock, tech/flex…all boxes. Unless of course, they get into the 1,000,000 square foot range, then they tend to be referred to as “bombers”—possibly because one could land a WW II bomber on the floor slab of one of these things. Still a “box” just the same.
The puzzle to solve in these speculative boxes is speculating what will go inside the box. From 10,000 square feet to 1,000,000,000 square feet, we find ourselves constantly musing over what might go inside the box. Column bay spacing? Clear height? Skylights or no? Clerestories or no? To LEED or not to LEED? Potential tenant mix, energy criteria, trailer parking, vehicle ramps, vapor barriers, seasonal parking, queuing, guard shack location, security fencing? And on and on. Little is certain when it comes to guessing future operators’ needs.
One thing is certain: in the 22 million square feet of industrial buildings we have designed in the last five years, many fundamentals have changed. Clear heights have gone from thirty feet to thirty-six feet—some 38, some pushing 40, depending on the building size. Column bay spacing has gone from forty-five by fifty feet to fifty by fifty-two—or four—or more.
So where is the speculative box market going? One need only look at the four million square feet of Build To Suit projects we have designed in the last year. One has a bay spacing of nearly seventy-nine by seventy-nine feet. Another has a clear height requirement of forty feet. Another even higher. The big operators are constantly pushing the envelope—hey, there’s another tired, old cliché to be recycled…