Retail Facilities

Dockside Cannabis, Seattle

RETROFIT TEAM

ARCHITECT: Graham Baba Architects

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Bennion Construction and Co.

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Harriott Valentine Engineers Inc.

FURNITURE DESIGNER: Artifex Northwest

MATERIALS

The exterior—composed of dark metal siding and roofing with corten metal accents—creates a visually quiet presence on a busy thoroughfare. PHOTO: Andrew Pogue

The project transforms an existing, non-descript 1-story building into a 1,930-square-foot shop that retains the footprint and height of the original structure to preserve the neighborhood scale. A new wood trellis and deck define the entry and provide a venue for outdoor gatherings and events.

The exterior—composed of dark metal siding and roofing with corten metal accents—creates a visually quiet presence on a busy thoroughfare. Ample glazing at the entry and street façade produces an inviting level of transparency, reinforcing the image of cannabis as a mainstream product.

Inside, the space is bright and airy, courtesy of light-stained maple and white oak, plywood cabinetry and display cases, as well as a skylight inserted into the existing roof. Daylight filters through exposed scissor trusses overhead while polished concrete floors provide a clean, no-fuss surface below. Wood shelving and tables feature steel accents and provide a minimalist contemporary aesthetic for products housed under glass cloches and in vitrines, a display method that enables customers to peruse the merchandise while still complying with strict, no-touch city regulations.

METAL SIDING MANUFACTURER: Nu-Ray Metals

Products are stored in efficient pull-out cabinets that can be stocked directly from the back room. PHOTO: Andrew Pogue

THE RETROFIT

When Dockside Cannabis, a Seattle-based chain of recreational cannabis shops, sought to expand into a rapidly changing neighborhood, the challenge was how to define the brand experience within a growing and shifting cannabis marketplace. The solution was to redefine the typical shopping experience through the creation of a sophisticated and inviting environment—a venue that offers a unique visual identity paired with an educationally focused customer experience.

Products are stored in efficient pull-out cabinets that can be stocked directly from the back room. When fully closed, these tall, vertical cabinets resemble a wood-paneled wall and serve as a simple backdrop for the sales counter. Sales staff members assist customers on the sales floor as they browse the products rather than from behind the counter, which is only used for the final transaction. This approach fosters a comfortable and informative conversation by removing the pressure to quickly decide and make a purchase while other customers are waiting in line.

Express purchases, ordered online in advance, can be quickly picked up at a table located just inside the entry. Medical consultations take place at a small desk tucked into a private corner removed from the main sales space.

One major challenge was inventing a retail environment for a new product. At the time of this project’s design, Washington state had only recently legalized recreational marijuana, and few other states had done so. Therefore, the design team was tasked with shaping a retail experience with few precedents and unique program requirements. The design team used this challenge as an opportunity to forge a new programmatic and visual identity for the Dockside shopping experience.

Additionally, the store design had to create a unique visual brand in a flooded market while also appealing to a wider audience. Spacious volumes; ample daylighting; and a clean material palette of wood, steel, and concrete foster a uniquely refined minimalism and welcoming atmosphere.

By eliminating the clutter and the bottleneck of a traditional cannabis shop sales counter, customers can enjoy a personalized, leisurely browsing experience in a tranquil, visually calming environment. The fresh, natural material palette and bright, transparent space provide just the right positive image to this newly legal sector of products.

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