See It…Then Decide

We are working with a facility manager on an expansion inside his existing facility. The goal was to expand his auditorium and add a cafeteria. In itself that can be a challenge, but when he told us that he wanted to enlarge his present mezzanine by 50’ x 80’ and put these two functions in that space – well he got our attention.

You can only imagine the building code issues that come into play with two large Assembly occupancies on an elevated mezzanine. We rolled up our sleeves and got going.

This client has built and renovated many facilities, but he understands that 2D drawing do not always tell the whole story. At his request we developed a 3D model of his building and placed the proposed mezzanine space inside. We then located and modeled the required stairs, corridors, and fire separation walls. The 3-D model allowed him to See it…then Decide how the expansion could be completed and where the conflicts would be. The added benefit is that he now has a 3-D rendering that he can show the boss so he too can See it…then Decide.

Contact us about how we can use our 3-D modeling tools to deliver a project you can “see it” before you decide to build it.

Constraints

Constraints – If you don’t identify them early they will always come back to bite you.

As I have said many times, all projects have three parts – Planning, Detail Design, and Construction. It is my belief that planning is the key to any successful project. A well planned project considers all the constraints that will be present before, during, and after the project. By identifying them early on, working with them, and managing them during the planning phase you will not have the problem this building owner has.

So the question is “Do you want to be Proactive or Reactive?” If the answer is Proactive then consider the following areas of Constraints as you start your next project:

  • Site: Topography, Easements, Utilities & Storm Water.
  • Buildings: Mechanical/Electrical Systems, Structural items & Building Materials.
  • Regulatory: Codes, Ordinances & Licensures.

There are many more, but this is a good list to start with.

Engage the constraints before it is too late. Call or email us, we would love to help you be proactive on your next project.

High-Piled What…

I got a call from a client asking me to do a structural inspection of a building he is leasing to a distribution company. As I stepped into the loading dock, what I saw made me shake my head. Wood pallets stacked as high as practical and as deep as possible. I certainly recognized this as a high piled storage condition. Knowing this building as well as I do, I knew the facility was not designed to accommodate this condition.

High-Piled Combustible Storage is a term used by the Building and Fire Codes to define areas in buildings where goods or materials are stored in racks or solid piles greater than a given height (typically 12’-0”) above the floor.  Many buildings may be tall enough to store above 12’-0”, but have not been designed to accommodate the high-piled combustible storage condition. Through the years we at PDMi have been in many buildings with high-piled storage conditions and have found that many of them are in non-compliance with many, if not all, of the applicable code previsions for high-piled storage.

Most building owners and tenants have not heard this term or are not aware that there are building codes and insurer compliance requirements that govern the safety of their facility. These codes and requirements include such things as:

  • Installation of a fire sprinkler system.
  • Installation of a mechanical smoke & heat ventilation system or roof venting skylights & curtain boards.
  • Installation of a fire alarm system.
  • Installation of a fire apparatus access road around the building and firefighting access doors in the exterior walls.
  • Installation of in-rack sprinkler system for high-hazard commodities.

Code requirements for high-piled combustible storage are based on commodity classification of the materials and how they are stored, including pallet material and if the commodity is in cardboard boxes or shrink wrap.  If you have any questions on what codes or regulations may apply to your storage areas it may be value added to talk with a professional. The professional’s experience and knowledge will be able to help determine the best solutions for your commodity storage so as to keep your facility free of hazards.

We would love the opportunity of working with you to evaluate your existing facility or if you are planning a new building or addition – please feel free to give me a call.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Last week I got a call from a client we worked with several years ago. They are a distribution company that has outgrown their facility. They have investigated multiple options to solve their space needs. These options ranged from building a new facility, leasing an off-site building, to buying an existing warehouse. They located an existing building that seems to fit their needs but it has a sight problem. The southeast corner of the building has settled 18”+ over the years (They are not looking to buy the Leaning Tower of Pisa; I just think this is a cool picture and it illustrates my point). The current owner of the property tells them that the settlement has stopped and all is stable today. As he says “Just put up with a sloped floor and all will be fine.” With that, they called us.

They do have interest in this building because overall it is adaptable to their operations. They also know that “Due Diligence” must be completed in order to fully understand all the issues/problems this property may have, very smart thinking on their part. So why is getting a Professional Engineer or Architect to help you with your Due Diligence a smart thing?

  • Because you or your staff may not have the expertise or experience in facilities design.
  • You do not want to buy a property with a problem without understanding the problem.
  • You will not want to own a building that may have Building Code violations.

We would love the opportunity of working with you as you complete your Due Diligence on your next project. I look forward to your call…

Summer – Where Did it Go?

I woke up this week and realized that September is only eight days away. Where did the summer go? I had a great summer. I never said it was not a busy summer, but it was great. The family and I did a lot of fun things this summer, like going to Wrigley Field, walking many golf courses, enjoying little league baseball games, visiting the Science and Industry Museum and spending a lot of time at the lake. But, one of my favorite summer highlights was seeing my 8 year old grandson get more confident on the wakeboard.  Even though I experienced all these things and enjoyed them, I had to stop and think why in the midst of a busy schedule was it a good summer?  It is kind of like experiencing a good building; you don’t always know why you like it; you just know you do.

Dan Gagen, our senior designer at PDMi, reminds me often that a well-designed building is experienced from three vantage points and that is what makes it pleasing to a person. Those vantage points are:

  • Street Scale: This is where you are driving down the road at 55 MPH and you see the building. At that point you are experiencing the Massing / Colors / Proportions of the building.
  • Parking Lot Scale: This is where you are still in your car and are entering the parking lot. At that point you are experiencing the Textures / Scale of the building elements / Landscaping & Signage of the building.
  • People Scale: This is where you are walking up to the building. At this point you are experiencing Details of the building elements / Entry Statement / Warmth of the space.

If all three are designed well and fitted together correctly you will love the building, but may never know why, and that is an architect’s goal. A sign of a great building is one that you like being in, but does not over power you. Like a good summer – you really enjoy it, for so many reasons!

We would love the opportunity of designing your next building so that you, and the many that will come through its doors, can enjoy it. I look forward to your call…