Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago | Pepper Construction Co.
Region: ENR Midwest

Owner/Lead Design Firm: Starbucks Corp.
General Contractor: Pepper Construction Co.
Structural Engineer: CS Associates
MEP Engineer: Ove Arup Chicago USA
Architect of Record: Perkins and Will
Industrial Process Engineering & Installation: Dennis Group

Where coffee meets Willy Wonka is what Starbucks fans will find at its Chicago Reserve Roastery on Michigan Avenue, in a renovation that turned the 43,000-sq-ft space into a retail experience as much as a coffee outlet and cafe.

General contractor Pepper Construction and a design team led by the coffee giant’s in-house designers were tasked with transforming a former Crate and Barrel store into a Starbucks outlet. The existing four-story building had a glass rotunda filled with crisscrossing escalators. 

During six-months of core-and-shell work, the escalators were removed and the outer edges of the circular rotunda were partially infilled. Within the rotunda’s open center, crews led by the Dennis Group installed the roastery’s signature element—a 56-ft-tall steel and aluminum coffee cask with a bronze finish that spans all four floors. 

“Symphony piping” allows visitors to watch fresh beans travel from roasters to the facility’s three coffee bars, says the submitter. To muffle the sound of thousands of beans flowing through multiple pipes, most of the millwork is acoustically treated and includes an arrayed wood ceiling that integrates thousands of pieces with lights, speakers and vents. 

The roastery has the Midwest’s first curved Mitsubishi escalator. It required 18 months of fabrication in Japan, one month to ship and six months of assembly on site. 

As other roasteries opened, Starbucks tweaked the design. Third-floor production areas were converted to retail, requiring MEP system reconfiguration. That threatened the schedule, but 20-hour shifts in the project’s final three months met the deadline. “It was a phenomenal partnership with Starbucks—we talked to them every day,” says Brian Healy, Pepper vice president. “We worked through the redesign process and they were right there. It was a collective push.”

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