The “Big Box” is Back

Liberty @ Shippensburg It’s no secret that e-commerce has drastically changed how goods and services are exchanged. The move to e-commerce has affected pricing, product availability, and consumer behavior around the world. Now, we can add construction to the list of changes, because e-commerce has created a resurgence in the need for “big box” warehouses.

Many e-commerce companies are now in need of distribution-ready space. Consumers have come to expect next-day or same-day delivery, so the demand for warehouse space is switching from the place of production to the place of consumption. Warehouses that used to be 500,000 square feet, with 32-foot clear to the roof structure, are now 1 to 2 million square feet with a minimum of 40-foot clear.

LJB has seen the resurgence first hand. Since 2013, the company has been involved in several big box warehouse projects across the country, starting with a 1.7 million-square-foot facility in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. LJB provided structural design of the building for Conewago Enterprises, the project’s general contractor and design-builder.

The massive building, which Liberty Property Trust is leasing to Procter & Gamble, was built using concrete tilt-up construction. Constructing the perimeter tilt-up concrete building envelope at the same time as the interior steel superstructure, accelerated the schedule and allowed for earlier occupancy. To accommodate its shipping needs, the building features 235 dock doors, which were cast into the wall panels on site.

The big box trend is notable in the construction market, but it’s also an indication of the larger overall economic recovery. This facility, located in a township with only 8,000 residents, will employ roughly 1,000 people and create 1,000 secondary jobs for the community—giving a significant boost to the area’s economy.

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