The design and constructability of industrial projects has changed immensely over the past decade, alongside growing e-commerce demand, population density and trends like grocery delivery. Kim Snyder, president, U.S. West region at Prologis; Jinger Tapia, principal, design at Ware Malcomb; Brook Melchin, senior architect/director at Riddell Kurczaba; and Robert Murray, senior vice principal at Alston Construction, discussed emerging trends in industrial development at this week’s I.CON Virtual 2020. Their conversation addressed a range of topics including design trends in new buildings, potential models for mixed-use buildings, and adapting to autonomous vehicles and increased automation within buildings.
Murray provided insight into recent trends in industrial buildings that are likely to continue in the near future. In general, buildings are getting taller, with 40-foot clear buildings now commonplace and 48-foot clear buildings increasingly entering the market. Taller buildings are also becoming more common in last-mile facilities located close to dense urban areas. Robotics and autostore systems are increasingly common, increasing building throughput. However, automated systems and HVAC systems also sometimes require the installation of additional sprinkler systems and have contributed to buildings’ electrical requirements. Murray observed that new buildings with automated systems frequently require the installation of three or four transformers and large backup generators to ensure that systems can remain in operation during a power outage.
Space usage at a site is also beginning to shift as many facilities, especially those in the last-mile category, increasingly accommodate additional parking for delivery vans and workers. Conventional buildings are still being built with 50-foot bays to service truck deliveries, but buildings increasingly use truck queueing systems to allow more on-site space to be devoted to parking. Murray said he has also seen a trend of moving offices to the center of a building. Buildings are increasingly being designed to accommodate different future uses of space.
Tapia also noted ways that buildings are being designed to be more flexible and identified design elements that can allow for more efficient use of space. For example, to accommodate a future change of use, designers can ensure that a wall that is initially designed for truck docking is not load-bearing so that it can be reconfigured or moved.
Tapia also outlined potential approaches to making a large buildings “more efficient on smaller acreage of land, closer in to the buyers who are looking for delivery.” These include the potential of placing loading zones in a central corridor along the middle of a building instead of at a building’s sides, and surrounding each side of a loading zone with mezzanines and vertical lifts.