Turning Old Buildings into Community Coffee Shops

A great thing about doing existing building renovation is maintaining the identity of a place and simultaneously figuring out ways to repurpose it for new uses. I think existing buildings add character, texture, and vibrancy to urban environments that you can’t get from a new building.

Building renovation is complicated, and often times more challenging than building ground up because you have to take into account existing conditions, and prepare yourself for a lot of unknowns. It’s important to be flexible during the process to develop creative solutions as new conditions are discovered. As an architect, I love the challenge of figuring out how to maintain the integrity of an existing building and its character, while simultaneously making it usable for our clients.

One of the values of renovating an existing building is leveraging the patina, or lived-in feeling of a space, with old materials like, brick, metal work, and concrete. San Francisco-based Philz Coffee is a perfect example of a company solely renovating existing buildings to create local, unique, one-of-a-kind coffee shops. 

One of the more unique Philz’s locations were working on is the historic preservation of a Texaco gas station in Orange, California.

One of the more unique Philz’s locations we're working on is the historic preservation of a Texaco gas station in Orange, California.

Philz Concept

We’ve been working with Philz the last year on new projects in a number of exciting locations close to Dewberry offices, including the D.C. area, Chicago, and Long Beach. Our design practice is predicated on community architecture approach.  We want to design buildings in the places where we live and work. I think this idea is really well aligned with Philz ethos of creating a place for the communities where they are located. In every one of their stores they have a large community table. The idea is that you should sit next to and engage with people, and this table gives communities a place do that.

Philz will be opening up a store in Long Beach, California. These stores are usually less than 3,000-square-feet and only take eight to 10 months to complete.

Philz will be opening up a store in Long Beach, California. These stores are usually less than 3,000 square feet and only take eight to 10 months to complete. 

Philz Process 

Once Philz identifies potential new store locations, we’ll start working on a series of test fits and design studies to make sure the space is viable for their programmatic needs. After the space has been vetted, we do an initial concept package that includes a floor plan, reflected ceiling plan, finish selections, interior renderings and signage. 

Once the initial concept package has been approved, we create a more comprehensive design development and permit package. After the permit is approved, it takes eight to 10 weeks to build the store.  What’s unique about every store is the look and feel of the customer experience. They’re going to get the same amazing cup of coffee whether they go to the store in Long Beach or in Arlington, but the finishes and materials will be unique and contextual to each location.

Streamlining the Process

We recently created a design catalogue that will help streamline the design process so they can continue to grow and build stores with greater efficiency, but not lose the unique design elements that make each location unique and fun. The catalogue includes finishes, furniture, lighting, paint, and textiles. 
 There’s more than 300 finishes in the catalogue that you can mix and match infinitely to make every store unique.

 

There’s more than 300 finishes in the catalogue that you can mix and match infinitely to make every store unique.

As Philz continues to expand and open stores in new geographic markets, there comes the great opportunity for everyone to enjoy an original “cup of love”.

 

Philz recently opened a store in Lafayette, California, that features bright colors, patterns, and textures to match the vibrancy of the local community.

Philz recently opened a store in Lafayette, California, that features bright colors, patterns, and textures to match the vibrancy of the local community.
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  • Erica Nelles
    Erica Nelles
 
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