Basements sound like a really good value -
residential, yes; commercial, no.
The best way to understand what a good design solution requires is NOT to start designing.
Stairs can ruin the design budget. Early planning is the antidote.
This is not at all obvious, but here is how it works.
Just about every project needs to address zoning and building codes.
Our design of coffee bars / kitchenettes improved
immensely after we designed one for ourselves.
A Site Analysis is a tool for maximizing the opportunity that your project represents by telling you up front which paths of site development will lead to achieving your goals.
We have all experienced rooms with poor acoustics, particularly unwanted sound transmission. To avoid poor acoustics you need to design a workable solution and you need to see that your solution is implemented.
Good Architectural Acoustics requires the use of just five simple concepts...
Have you ever tried to incorporate trash collection into a project during Construction Documents?
It is a mess, and the results will be less than stellar unless you go way in the hole by reworking lots of earlier decisions.
How to avoid the situation next time is the topic of this post.
Over the years we have bid a lot of projects both privately and publicly. We have also documented our process to avoid 'reinventing the wheel'. The following describes the steps in our process. Several of the documents or forms that we use are downloadable by clicking their name. Perhaps this will be helpful to you.
Most of us don't give a thought to a Janitor's Closet. We put a sink in a small room of 5'x5' and move on.
Well there's a little more to it if you want the space to serve the building owner. We learned what is really needed when we designed a supply warehouse for Banana Republic / The Gap. The owner's project manager, who was in charge of supplying the whole company with stuff for operating the individual stores, was basically an executive janitor.
We received very specific requirements for the janitor's closet. I am passing on his wisdom to you.
Zoning is an odd duck. Zoning is unique among codes because you might not be able to build. Period.
Every other code will allow you to proceed if you can show compliance, which is generally just a matter of money - more of it.
With zoning, no amount of money can buy permission to proceed if you don't meet the requirements. Sometimes you have to wait a year before re-applying!
Flat Roofs Don’t Leak
Flat roofs have a bad reputation for leaks, but I don’t think flat roofs leak. My experience is that any leaks aren’t due to poor roofing or poor roof materials. The leaks are due to the flatness of the roof, which encourages use of the roof for HVAC equipment.
Here is why that is a leak-producing situation, and what you can do about it.
The ‘Standard Details’ concept is deceptively simple. “An easily accessed library of building details that describe how you like to do things.” Everybody gets that.
Have you ever tried to do it?
I found success elusive. But it is worth a try. Here is why ...
A year after I started my own firm, I was invited to design a hangar for my Dad's golfing buddy, who happened to have started an airline that was growing by leaps and bounds. We designed projects for his airline for about twenty years until they were bought out by one of the major airlines. One of the main skills that allowed us to keep up with their growth was my knowledge of project delivery methods - mostly book-learning, driven by interest.
There are a number of things about a truck dock that add up to truck docks needing to be more than an afterthought.
I am not thinking of a distribution center when I say that. The docks are the central focus of that kind of building and will get plenty of attention. I am thinking here of the incidental truck dock that may be a convenience or an efficiency measure. In that case safety is a paramount concern, but every truck dock that isn't part of a professional trucking operation should have a safety focus because people will sometimes use the dock who haven't been trained.
The first design step is to contact a local manufacturer's rep for dock levelers. They can look at your situation and give you great advice about the best way to set up the dock.
Here are a few things to consider about the dock, the building and the equipment:
The first sustainable project that I had a chance to be part of was offices for a Dutch candy manufacturer in the late 1990s. Among other things accomplished, we used Photovoltaic Panels as window awnings - collecting and using the sunlight while shading the window glass. I am sure that is where this ideas comes from: using reflective glass to form an exterior light shelf that also shades the window below. That is what my crude sketch below is trying to describe.
I have been using this free graphics tool for three years. Canva is a graphic design program that anyone can use. It is drop-dead easy. Check it out here.
Canva has proven itself to be so helpful that I recently started using the Canva For Work version that has a few bells and whistles I like. $12.95 a month saves me at least an hour a month, but you won't need that. Canva is free and really powerful.
I got the opportunity to design some school buildings right out of college. They were fairly large projects taking six months to a year for the design phases. There was lots of time to recover from missteps. After a couple of these I got an admin building for a small school district. By comparison this was a three-bedroom house in scale. Before I had a handle on what the project would entail, I started focusing on the entrance and how I wanted that to work. After a day or two, the question came. "What the hell are you doing?" I explained about the importance (to me) of the entrance. "Do you even know if this is going to be 1-story or two? Does it fit the site?"
The first time I designed a building with two levels, the boss told me to make the floor-to-floor height as tight as possible because that would keep the exteior wall cost as low as possible. I did it.
My main recollection of the construction of that building was the constant phone calls and trips to the site to explain how to run the ducts, conduits, and place the lights so everything would fit. I came to the conclusion that the boss may have been focused on the wrong issue.
Eventually I came to this Rule Of Thumb that I am going to share with you. But I always gave the floor-to-floor height more thought than on that first project.
I once wasted a day trying to lay out a building and parking on a site. It couldn't be done. The building footprint, plus parking, plus zoning setbacks equalled 92% of the area of the site. Tight, but do-able you are thinking; just get creative.
... Did I mention that the shape of the site had an offset that prevented an efficient parking layout? Some layouts came so close to working that I was sure there was a solution. Nope, the math wouldn't give.
If only I had worked the math first, I would have spent most of that day looking at alternatives like partial two-story, or a full two-story building, or simply explaining that we were wasting our time on this site.
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