Inside Chipotle’s new prototype

Chipotle's mantra "food with integrity" is now being reflected in its restaurant design.

The third edition of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s design, which Mick McConnell presented Friday to the Kansas City chapter of the American Institute of Architects, is intended to be simple, clean and environmentally friendly. McConnell said he saw his position as Chipotle's internal architect as an opportunity to create a system for Chipotle's design.

"I didn't need to create a package," the company's director of architecture and design said. "You know, this is your design — now, cookie-cutter it out. It would be better to develop a system."

Everything in the new design is intended to be simple and abide by the rule of building less. According to the AIA's Sustainability Discussion Group, between 25 and 40 percent of the nation's solid waste stream is composed of building-related waste. McConnell's goal was to reduce Chipotle's waste.

Meeting this goal meant simplifying the store from all angles. Chipotle's wood "box" design requires standardized panel sizes, but the extra wood can be used for the structure of the design, reducing the amount of material the company throws away.

Chipotle's whole menu uses fewer ingredients than a Big Mac, and McConnell wants the design to be equally simple.

"They're doing all this great stuff with food," he said. "I wanted to do that with store design. There's this great opportunity to look at every component and delve into that."

Part of reducing Chipotle's environmental footprint comes from looking critically at what the store can do away with.

"We literally just went around the store and said, 'Can we get rid of this? Can we get rid of that?'" McConnell said.

Rather than storing pre-prepped food in a walk-in cooler — where stores could make extra space — and prepped food in a smaller refrigerator, stores will now have just one walk-in. The large walk-in will provide storage, and the side of the cooler will be glass, where employees can grab prepped food. Cutting down on refrigerators means cutting down on energy costs.

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