MULTIFAMILY DEVELOPMENTS: KNOWING THE CODE
Knowledgeable and Informed Design Includes Building Code Expertise
When it comes to architecture, the untrained eye may not fully grasp the complexity of a building’s design and site considerations, or the complex building codes that regulate many of the design details of a finished facility.
Curtis Miner Architecture (CMA) is an award-winning architectural firm, known for our organized and thoughtful designs. By partnering with our clients, user representatives, contractors, government officials, stakeholders, and the community, CMA not only delivers stunning and functional facilities, but we help clients navigate the complex codes involved in bringing a building to life while avoiding unnecessary liability. Our familiarity with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act (FHA), International Building Code (IBC), and zoning and development codes with various local jurisdictions sets our designs apart.
When it comes to designing buildings and the sites they are being developed on, designers must be astutely aware of building codes that apply to the type of facility being designed and constructed. Each building type has specific building codes that apply, and these codes affect certain aspects of both building design and site development. CMA prides itself on being an expert in designing to meet these codes and delivering innovate and functional designs that maximize the client’s budget and schedule by minimizing issues or liabilities related to not meeting codes.
A Closer Look at Multifamily Building Codes
From large-scale apartment complexes to small-scale condominium projects, designing multifamily developments in something CMA is very familiar with. One of the critical ways we ensure a project’s success is through our intimate knowledge of all building codes related to multifamily development and design. CMA understands the intricacies of each code and how they often overlap with (and sometimes contradict) one another.
ADA codes apply to the accessibility of public portions of multi-family projects and require all features of the building to be usable by all people, regardless of disability. This includes common amenities, interior and exterior circulation routes, and parking lots — essentially anything outside of the actual physical dwelling unit. FHA codes apply to design elements inside a physical dwelling such as doorway widths, countertop heights, and bathroom and kitchen configurations.
These two very important building codes often intersect on multifamily developments. This connection is exactly where a design firm that has not entrenched itself in buildings codes would find the greatest opportunity for error. CMA knows exactly how one code affects another and how the intersecting codes must be interpreted to avoid design complications. When they are not compatible, CMA designers find innovative methods to satisfy the most difficult code requirement that checks all the boxes for compliance. “We do this by placing the most challenging code in what we call the priority position.” Principal Curtis Miner explains, “Our team provides intentional design to ensure that all building codes and accessibility requirements are not only met but taken very seriously. The end users of the spaces are in the forefront of our designs.”
In addition to ADA and FHA codes, each state adopts a version of the IBC. For Utah, architects currently follow the 2018 edition of these codes, which typically delineate the constructability of a facility. CMA is deeply aware of the IBC codes and how they affect aspects of our design, including footing and foundation design, building methods and materials (e.g. wood versus steel based on building size and use), fire/sound separation between units, building exiting, resident safety, and much more.
CMA rounds out our code knowledge with a detailed understanding of local zoning codes, which apply to building height, site density, parking, building placement, architectural building style, etc.
By safeguarding our clients from unnecessary liability and minimizing project costs, our team can confidently apply building codes while maintaining a focus on the social, historical, political and physical aspects that go into every development we design.