The ‘drive-in’ revisited in the age of sustainability. Pro bono concept and schematic design proposal.

Site and Existing Building

Project Objective

Envisioned as an extension of the Reichert House, Solar Coffee would provide opportunities for at risk youth to participate to become stakeholders in a small business coffee shop on Southeast Hawthorne Road in Gainesville, FL.  The Reichert House provides educational support, life skills, and disciplinary structure for many of the up to 100 youths who are living either without homes or in situations of common domestic violence. 

Aerial View
Car Parking and Entry

This design proposal seeks to develop a fallow property, just across the street from the Reichert House facilities on a major arterial corridor, that would be both commercially viable and didactically significant in terms of setting positive examples of discipline, investment, and a positive work ethic for local at-risk youth.  Solar Coffee optimizes the use of rainwater and sunlight abundantly available as both the utility infrastructure and as generators of iconic drive-in imagery on the Southeast Hawthorne Road (State Road 20) strip development pattern. 

Front View of Existing Building

Convenience Through Design

Youth from the Reichert house could work in the coffee shop earning money with proceeds directed to support the Reichert House programs.  Customers could call or app ahead, park in a shaded garden, and have their orders delivered to their cars – as an alternative to the growing line of cars at the drive-up window.  Or, of course, people could come in and sit down in the small café. 

Project Design

The design reclaims a small abandoned structure, highlights the use of solar panels, and utilizes a shade canopy as a catchment tray for capturing and directing rainwater to a cistern.  The rainwater is UV treated and filtered before use eliminating typical municipal chlorines, fluorides, and natural salts while providing a safe, naturally sweet, and clean tasting water – the main ingredient in just about every beverage. 


A limited menu of baked goods such as muffins, scones, bagels, and breads along with sandwiches, salads and fresh fruits and juices would also be available. 

The iconic Solar Coffee expands local commerce; engages at risk youth in productive activities; provides healthy food within an area referred to as a ‘food swamp’ by nutritionists; utilizes resource efficient design and sustainable practices; and presents these concepts positively to the community in a highly visible location near the downtown in Gainesville, Florida.