Industrial Design Trends


What You Need to Know about this Rapidly Growing Commercial Real Estate Sector

With more than one billion square feet of industrial properties designed, Ware Malcomb has long been a trailblazer in the industrial market. Throughout our near fifty-year history, our company has conceptualized innovative designs to fit modern day needs and future technological advances. The most impactful industrial design trends we’re identifying include the following:

Multistory Industrial

This new asset class has been solidified as a sustainable development strategy due to capital markets, e-commerce, and 3PL acceptance. We are now seeing multistory developments becoming viable in locations other than just port locations where land costs and rent levels haven’t previously yielded the return on investment. Our multistory prototype has been implemented into a growing number of markets where the increased demand for e-commerce same day delivery has outpaced available land development options. This new market reality has been magnified in the post-COVID era where online buying has seen increased consumer acceptance. Market drivers include lack of land and high land cost, as well as large van staging and loading requirements. Both land costs and consumer demand for same day delivery continue to increase at an unsustainable pace. To address this challenge, some multistory logistics centers are being designed with 100% robotics in an artificial intelligence 4D environment.

Automation Standardization

In some projects, automation is becoming standardized and commoditized, and is being designed into the speculative shell building. This model is financed by the developer and monetized in rent and long-term tax depreciation. This is an opportunity for developers to reexamine their product and the way they introduce industrial assets to the market to attract smaller e-commerce users who may not have the capital to finance a building or compete with the major e-commerce leaders. In these unique facilities, the automation dictates the design and configuration of the building from the inside out.

Facility Design

Due to advancements in design and construction technology, new design requirements are being incorporated into industrial facilities. These design specifications can include larger truck courts up to 135’, 70-foot staging bays to increase requirements for light assembly, re-packaging or shipping areas and increased building heights up to 40’ clear and beyond to accommodate multiple level internal mezzanines and pick to belt modules. Additionally, there are significantly increased parking requirements for both employee parking and vehicle/delivery parking and staging far beyond the minimum zoning requirements. As we see more of these design specifications introduced into the market, industrial facilities will need to be more flexible and dynamic to futureproof these facilities in their second and third generation to remain viable assets well into the future.


Technology is informing and shaping the industry. The lines are blurring between technology and architecture, where machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing how we design buildings. Technology such as ASRS (Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems) and Auto Store Robotic Systems combined with machine learning software are emerging design concepts. Additionally, biomorphic façade design, urban farming, and automated vehicle loading circulation concepts are transforming how we design the site and exterior of this next generation of industrial facilities. All of these exciting technological developments will shape the industrial buildings of the future. Our industrial teams across North America continue to evolve our designs to meet future market demands and maximize the long-term real estate value of our clients’ assets. Learn more about our industrial projects by viewing our portfolio.