New Windowless Taco Bell On Stilts Design is Result of “Auto-Dominated Market Forces”

I used to live quite close to this windowless architectural oddity:

Image left: CC BY 2.0 / Image right: By Dhaluza at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5

That’s 33 Thomas Street, a/k/a the AT&T Long Lines Building, located in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood. The window-free 55-story behemoth was built in the 1960s to house telephone line equipment in a highly secure environment. (Nowadays it’s rumored to house TITANPOINTE, a secret NSA mass surveillance hub.)

Surprisingly, the use of windowless, visually impenetrable architecture to conceal equipment has now been taken up by…Taco Bell. As the pandemic has shifted many fast food chains to takeout-only, Taco Bell parent company Border Foods is betting that customers have grown to prefer it. Thus the new Taco Bell outpost in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, has no dining room, and is basically a windowless fast food factory on stilts:

“The building will have a contemporary look using architectural metal panels, glass, and block,” reads a document submitted to the city’s planning commission. “The building is designed to screen all the restaurant’s mechanical equipment.”

Upstairs, unseen workers will prepare the food, expected to be ordered via app. The bulk of the building’s footprint at ground level is taken up by four drive-thru lanes. As customers pull up to the dispensing points, the food is delivered down to them via dumbwaiter. There is no human face-to-face contact.

However, one of the drive-thru lanes will be the traditional kind, with food ordered on-site through an intercom, and dispensed via a window by a human employee. Additionally, there is some allowance for car-free customers:

“Even though the building is responding to auto-dominated market forces, a person could easily walk or bike to the site to order inside.

“The first floor will have a small indoor counter for in-person walk-up ordering. There is no dining inside [nor outside]. A smaller kitchen will service this counter as well as the traditional drive-up lane.”

It will be interesting to see if this pandemic-inspired, car-friendly type of architecture takes root. And I figure the bean counters will be thrilled to save on both Windex and uniforms; if no one can see the workers, perhaps they’ll be clothed in branding-free, colorless, inexpensive but hygienic jumpsuits.

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