Designing for the “New” OfficeMar 05 2015 · 0 comments · NISHKIAN MENNINGER, Office/Commercial ·0
In the new age of the tech office, efficiency and adaptability are necessary for any office space. Offices in the past were heavy with furniture, file cabinets and full partitions, and the spaces were designed as such. Now, as offices are moving toward all computerized files, the designs are becoming completely different from their predecessors. Less partitions, fewer heavy filing systems, and lighter computer equipment, combined with the desire to fit more people in less space have created design challenges for the structural engineer.
Actual live loads for offices are difficult to estimate. The California Building Code (CB) requires a 50 pound per square foot (psf) load for the typical office floor, with some additional load required in corridors or other high use areas, and a 15 psf load for partitions. This load can be reduced by a code equation that takes into account the fact that an office floor will not see the maximum load applied to the entire space at once.
In today’s workplace, more tenants are requesting additional assembly or dining space, these loads may not always be enough to cover the increased occupancy loads. To make matters worse, in the latest version of the CBC, the required live load for these assembly type spaces have been designated non-reducible, meaning the 100 psf load is fully applied throughout the entire space at the same time. And live loads are not the only problem with these new open floor and assembly spaces. Large indoor assembly areas of 300 people can trigger a required amplification of the building importance factor. This will result in a direct 25% increase in the seismic demand of the structure. Many existing office buildings have not been designed to meet these load demands. Even many new buildings have been designed to meet these requirements only in specific areas, and may not be able to accommodate tenants with bigger or different plans for use.
To accommodate the desires of these “new” tenants, the Nishkian team works with the architects and owners to allow for maximum use of any floor in a structure. For new structures, Nishkian will typically use a higher live load rating for all of its floors, which will increase the flexibility of the structure for its occupants. Vibration analysis is performed for all floors to ensure an appropriate comfort level in the office space. We also provide our services to analyze existing buildings to obtain the maximum possible loading and engineer a solution for increased occupant use. Please contact us for further discussion on this and any other structural engineering questions.