The eclectic list includes Jennifer Lee, the screenwriter and co-director of Disney's "Frozen" - the highest grossing animated film of all time - and comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who revved up his career with the web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
“It feels good to make the list,” Perez says with a half a laugh and a smile as he diverts attention away from himself. “The recognition is really about the brand and what Starbucks has enabled our concepts team to work on.”
Perez and his team members are acknowledged for “constantly rethinking what a coffee shop can be” and “working to imbue each Starbucks with a uniquely local and sustainable flair.”
People are noticing Perez’s provocative work.
“I’ve driven through this Starbucks many times to get my morning coffee,” says Christina Rose, a customer at a Seattle Starbucks made of recycled cargo shipping containers. “I’m amazed that someone had the idea to create this in the first place. It’s quite stunning and even meaningful.”
The container store concept was Perez’s first project for Starbucks. He was asked to reinvent the drive-through.
“For me, being a sustainability person, my first answer was no,” Perez admitted, “but thinking about being able to affect change and then leverage that change across dozens or hundreds of projects to get people to rethink what is possible, suddenly that challenge became a seductive proposition.”
The challenge was to reduce the size of an average Starbucks store from 1,700 square feet to about 400 square feet and remove the seating. The resulting space had to be an engaging, artful way of elevating the drive-through experience for Starbucks customers. Within a short span of 10 months, the first innovative and unexpected shipping container store opened.
“I’m a licensed architect and for me walking into a building that used to be on paper is incredibly satisfying. The concepts we’re working on at Starbucks are about 1,000 times greater than that feeling,” he said. “It all came together – design, refined with brand, tempered with sustainability.”
Perez is energized by the work Starbucks is doing to create spaces that reflect local relevance and give customers a deeper connection to their communities. With that in mind, we asked Perez show us the top three Starbucks locations that inspire him.
1. Chapultepec - Mexico City, Mexico
Located within Mexico City's Bosque de Chapultepec, this Starbucks store acts as a hidden gateway to the largest park in Latin America.
2. Canal Street – New Orleans, Louisiana
The Starbucks store in the heart of New Orleans on Canal Street includes light fixtures inspired by musical instruments and a 12-foot community table made with wood repurposed from wind fallen trees.
3. Kerry Center – Beijing, China
The two-story Starbucks, with coffee bars on both levels, features design elements by local artists with visual images telling the story of how coffee beans are grown, sourced and processed through a creative and modern interpretation of Chinese brush painting.