Blog Task 3: Design Brief


Starbucks operates a dozen or more locations in the heart of downtown Chicago in a highly competitive and saturated coffee market.  Space is expensive and flow of customers varies greatly throughout the day.


The waiting area gets uncomfortably crowded at rush hour (several times in the morning and occasionally in the afternoon).


Starbucks’ mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.  Starbucks achieves it mission through a number of principals, two of which include its stores and its customers.

Regarding stores, “when customers feel this sense of belonging, our stores become a haven, a break from the worries outside, a place where you can meet with friends.  It’s about enjoyment at the speed of life – sometimes slow and savored, sometimes faster.  Always full of humanity.”

Regarding customers, when employees are fully engaged, “we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers – even if just for a few moments.  Sure, it starts with the promise of a perfectly made beverage, but our work goes far beyond that.  It’s really about human connection.” (Starbucks, 2014).


a) This location has limited space, and there are only 2 entryways.

b) The number of customer per day is relatively predictable, and

the store knows there will be some busy times and some slow times throughout the day.

c) At peak times, there’s limited opportunity to connect with some customers.


d) The exact times of rush hour

e) Extent of customer dissatisfaction with long lines and crowded waiting area

f) Number of customer who go elsewhere when the line gets too long or the store gets too crowded


1) Round corners of long table to accommodate more sitters / standers  (Kimes, 2014).

2) Relocate men’s bathroom and 3 chair customer counter by drink pickup, install 6 set customer counter against back wall, incorporate women’s bathroom into back room

3) Install new machines to make espresso faster

4) Limit drink selection at this location

5) Open new store in nearby location to alleviate traffic

6) Hire more staff at peak times

7) Conduct time-motion study to optimize staff efficiency

8) Use QR codes to expedite customer ordering (Kimbell,L. 2012).

9) Increase music volume when wait is longer (Mandila, 2014).


View from cash register:

View from drink pick up counter:

View from entryway when there’s a line:

Existing Floor layout:

Possible Space reconfiguration:


Starbucks Mission Statement.  Retrieved August 10, 2014 from
Kimbell, L. Rethinking design thinking: Part II. Design and Culture, Retrieved August 15, 2014 from

Mandila, M, and Gerogiannis, V.  The Effects of Music on Customer Behaviour and Satisfaction in the Reion of Larissa – The Cases of Two Coffee Bars, Retrieved August 15, 2014 from

Kimes, S. and Robson, Stephani, The Impact of Restaurant Table Characteristics on Meal Duration and Spending, Retrieved August 15, 2014 from

Comments on Other Blogs:




Blog Post 2: Starbucks morning rush hour

Starbucks floor plan



Starbucks has 2 entryways, one from the street and the other from a connected office building lobby. Customers enter the store and follow an unmarked path to the cash registers. If there’s a line, customers talk to each other, look at their phones, or look at the menu.

For regular orders, customers receive drinks at cash register and proceed to coffee bar, customer counter area, and/or exit the store. For custom orders, customers wait in front of counter (depicted by a “red cloud” on the drawing), often crowded and chaotic at peak times.

Waiting for drinks, customers look at their phones, talking with on another, watching staff prepare drinks, or talk with staff. One customer inquired about a colorful drink. A staff member complained about limited space in another store.

During rush hour, mood is upbeat and music is high tempo. Temperature inside is comfortable, mirroring outside mild summer weather. Lighting is bright and focused on counter areas.
As staff furiously prepares drinks in assembly line formation, most customers wait anxiously. Some customers inquire about drink orders. A couple staff members call out drink orders and thank customers (occasional by name). A few customers question drink orders or make additional requests. One customer complimented staff on announcing a long drink name. Some drinks are called, but not picked up.

As traffic slows, music tempo slows, atmosphere relaxes and staff attends to other functions. Customers remaining in the store sit and work on laptops, talk in groups, or make phone calls.

My comments:

Mariam Edwards –

Margaret Pickworth –

Jerry Leeson –

Blog Task 1

Blog Task 1:Blog Task 1:  (An update to comments in my Forum 1.1 post)

(a) Describe a problem space that is not serving the purpose it could do, for learning (80 words):

Given the lack of opportunity to make changes in my office environment, I’ll describe a common problem space I’ve seen in small coffee shops and restaurants in downtown business districts namely lack of space for larger groups to collaborate.  These businesses operate in small spaces and frequently have dispersed tables which seat 2-4 people, creating congestion problems and making it difficult for larger groups to collaborate. 

(b) Explain, using some of the suggested reading, why that space might benefit from some thinking on its design (200 words).

Replacing numerous small tables with one large table could increase seating capacity, improve traffic flow, and create more space in small quarters.  (To the extent that there is a limited number of options in the small space, one might consider the description of the problem space as well defined, per the Simon article, as possible solutions require only a practicable amounts of computation in terms of configuring seating space ).

The Walker article (Dear Architect) offers suggestions for future redesigns which would benefit the small downtown restaurant, namely, a redesign which gives a sense of inclusion, develops an attractive and welcome sitting area, alleviates congested in crowded routes, provides more efficient and comfortable circulation throughout the space, and minimizes areas of crowding.

The Melles article discusses the “project war room” for business applications and to the extent that a tables with greater seating capacity would create a more immersive work environment, these spaces might benefit from longer tables for increased collaborative efforts among larger groups of people.

(c) Describe the changes, however small, you make to that space as a result in order to attempt to create a better space for learning

I’ve recently noticed that restaurants are installing long tables in downtown locations.   It struck me after reading a story that referenced the 18th century coffeehouse where many gathered to discuss ideas and collaborate.

3 examples stand out (see photos on Flickr).

A Chicago bank lobby recently installed a long table to replace 10 small tables seating 2-4 people.  Small tables limit collaborative ability while longer table provide space for groups to meet.

Starbucks pushed back their counter to make room for a long table in the middle of the store which not only alleviates congestion and directs traffic but also provide group gathering space.

Applewood BBQ pushed 10 small tables together to form one long table for individual and group seating.

The long tables varied by establishment.  The bank provided a marbletop table to match bank decor, Starbucks installed recycled wood tables similar to other stores, and Applewood pushed tables together (perhaps a design caricature of the bank or Starbucks).

All 3 redesigns reminded me of the lunch tables I used to eat at in grade school.  Perhaps businesses are learning from the education system with the use of the long table to get people communicating and collaborating.


The Art of Innovation: Designing Learning Spaces for a Creative, Collaborative Future. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from

Schrage, M. (2013, February 13). How Parody Inspires Great Design, Harvard Business Review Blog:  Retrieved from:

Melles, G. (2010). Curriculum design thinking: a new name for old ways of thinking and practice? Sydney: Proceedings of the DTRS8 Conference 299-308.   Retrieved from

Simon, H. A. (1973). The structure of ill-structured problems. Artificial Intelligence. 4, pp. 181–201. Retrieved from:


Blog 1 comments…

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