Top 12 Ohio Building Code Updates for 2016

by on January 14, 2016 - Leave A Comment

The Ohio Board of Building Standards has kicked off 2016 with a laundry list of Ohio Building Code updates. Typically, Ohio Building Code updates are grammatical improvements, additional definitions, and minor clarifications to improve the text of the code and enhance understanding of the code’s intent, but the 2016 New Year update is full of code changes. Many of the Ohio Building Code updates realize some of the more desired modifications in later versions of the International Building Code (IBC), which forms the basis of our Ohio Building codes. These changes also address some overdue revisions to clarify the use group and application for some specific building types.

The Laundry List –
First, let me start off by saying that this should not be viewed as a complete list of code updates. These are my takeaways after a quick read-through. For a copy of the complete changes to the Ohio Building Code, please visit the Ohio Board of Building Standards. Also, I am leveraging the expertise of M+A’s Healthcare and Higher Education Studio Director, P’liz Koelker, to clarify the changes to ambulatory care facilities.

Below are my insights into the New Year Ohio Building Code updates:

1. While casinos first appeared in Ohio in 2012, they make their debut in the Ohio Building Code as an A2 Use. It’s also important to note that Table 2902.1 has been updated to reflect the required plumbing fixture counts.

Ohio Building Code Updates - Casino

Casinos are now fully integrated into Ohio Building code as an A2 Use.

2. Mop sinks are no longer required in mercantile and business uses with an occupant load of less than 15. This represents a square footage of less than 450 sq. ft. for mercantile and 1500 sq. ft. for business, so this isn’t earth shattering, but it goes a long way in addressing actual use where these small spaces are often cleaned with household cleaning products.

3. The required clearances for toilet partitions (excluding accessible facilities) has been updated to distinguish between wall-hung and floor-hung toilets. This recognizes that typical wall-hung toilets are more compact than tank-type and floor-spud toilets, allowing compartments to be reduced from 60 inches to 56 inches.

4. Spaces that are required to have only a single men’s and women’s restroom—with a single water closet and lavatory in each—can each be designated as a unisex restroom. This is a huge improvement for any parent who needs to get their children into a single, public restroom.

5. The exception to 2902.2 has been revised increasing the occupant load, permitted to have a single restroom to serve both men and women in a mercantile use from 50 to 100. Even though, not a reflection of the fixture counts found in Table 2902.1, (if it was a true representation, the occupant load would have been increased 10 fold!) regardless, it’s a welcome change permitting smaller mercantile uses up to 3,000 sq. ft. to have only a single restroom.

6. Cafeterias and similar spaces with a commercial kitchen are also now clarified to be an A2 Use.

7. Hoistway venting for elevators is not required in pressurized elevator shafts per the exception added to 708.14.2.1.

8. Clarifications have been added to distinguish between a doctor’s office and an ambulatory care space. Both are still B Uses, but there was plenty of confusion surrounding the requirements of what could be a doctor’s office and what was required to meet the stricter ambulatory care requirements.

9. Expect to see more questions pertaining to patients being rendered incapable of self-preservation. This will be the primary litmus test for requirements pertaining to ambulatory care spaces.

10. Sprinklers are required in ambulatory care uses when there may be four or more patients incapable of self-preservation on the level of exit discharge or just one patient when the space is on a different level. This may impact dental practices.

11. Manual fire alarms and smoke detection is required for ambulatory care facilities, unless fully sprinklered.

12. The march of the voice notification fire alarm continues and it is now a requirement for ambulatory care. It would not be a surprise that it becomes standard across all project types in the future.

As stated above, for a complete copy of all the 2016 New Year Ohio Building Code updates, please visit the Ohio Board of Building Standards. But I hope my laundry list of takeaways is helpful in the meantime!

Kimball Midwest - M+A Architects

Cafeterias with a commercial kitchen are now clarified to be an A2 Use

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Low Vision and Pediatric Optometry Clinic Design

by on December 29, 2015 - Leave A Comment

One of my favorite parts of being a designer in our industry is building relationships with clients and understanding their background, user population, location, and brand. All of these components make each group unique and I love having the opportunity to translate those qualities into a built environment. It may take several meetings, it may happen the first time you step foot on the project site, or maybe it doesn’t hit until you start to put something down on paper, but it always inevitably occurs – that a-ha moment when your vision for a space starts to take shape. This process was no different with our recent clinic design renovation for The Ohio State University’s Fry Hall, where our vision for their space materialized after just a few meetings with their College of Optometry project team.

The potential for a meaningful renovation of Fry Hall’s Low Vision Rehabilitation and Pediatric Optometry Clinic was driven by the unique requirements of their patient population, the potential to make a statement for the staff and students, as well as recruitment of future students. Before we began to design, our team researched guidelines for low vision and pediatric populations, the two groups that would be sharing the first floor clinic space. Using the guidelines from the National Institute of Building Sciences Low Vision Design Committee, research conducted regarding pediatric design, and feedback from the college staff, we set overarching clinic design goals to create a set of guidelines for design decisions throughout the project.

Themes for the Clinic Design:
Entire Clinic
Modern, high contrast, graphic

Low Vision Clinic
Simple, sophisticated
High contrast – Dark floor to ground the space. Light walls to reflect light. Contrasting door frames to distinguish entryways.
Bold color palette – OSU themed!

Pediatric Clinic
Playful – yet appropriate for toddlers and teenagers.
Continue high contrast theme from Low Vision in a fun, graphic way
Colored columns and door graphics help with wayfinding

clinic design

Clinic Design features an entrance that creates instant visual hierarchy.

ENTRANCE – Wayfinding and Visual Hierarchy (above)
This clinic is one of two clinics in the State of Ohio that provides the exam required for people with low vision impairment to be tested for driver’s license renewal — meaning patients from all over the state travel to the clinic for day-long exams. Because of the high demand nature of the Low Vision Clinic’s services, patients are often coming in and out of the space and navigating through the entire clinic and the first floor of the Optometry building. Knowing this frequent activity, a key visual element at the entrance of the space was an important objective for OSU staff. Bringing an abundance of light into the space was also key, but we needed to ensure it wouldn’t be a safety concern for those who could not perceive the difference between clear glass and an opening. Our team utilized glass film to help create a visual difference, which also presented an opportunity for branding.

clinic design

The reception desk is an integral part of the clinic design and makes a purposeful and visual statement catering to both user groups.

RECEPTION – Visual Contrast Using Light and Color (above)
To make it clear to patients where to go upon entering the clinic, the reception desk was designed to make a bold, visual statement. Contrast in color and light are the two elements that are most obvious to a person with impaired vision. Keeping this in mind we used contrasting colors in the carpet, ceiling and desk and chose pendants as beacons of light to help direct visiting patients to the front desk. Also keeping in mind that this desk would greet the pediatric patients, we used fun patterns and a playful curved transaction panel to keep things attractive to visiting families and all in a branded Buckeye spirit.

clinic design

The clinic design features intentional low vision specific way-finding.

LOW VISION PATIENT CORRIDOR – Wayfinding through High Contrast and Oversized Graphics (above)
Helping low vision patients navigate to their exam rooms was a high priority of the staff members. They wanted the door openings to be very obvious with oversized signage, but not to the point that might insult patients who could view the space as a place “for blind people”. We designed custom door jambs that were deeper than standard, painted the inside profile scarlet, and included lighting over each of the doors to help them stand out from the white walls and dark carpet. We chose a carpet with an edge accent to help accentuate the openings as well. Bold, modern vinyl graphics help to distinguish the door numbers.

clinic design

Ageless, custom wall graphics are a play on the traditional eye chart.

PEDIATRIC CORRIDOR – Wayfinding through Fun, Ageless Graphics (above)
Creating a fun experience that appealed to all ages — from toddler to teenager — was an important objective for the pediatric clinic. We wrapped existing columns in custom vinyl wall graphics resembling a jumbled eye chart. The wall graphics incorporated OSU’s scarlet and gray brand, as well as a fun secondary palette of colors with small scale letters. Inside the exam rooms, the same graphic was used at a larger scale with a variety of background colors to help distinguish the spaces. The doors of the exam rooms feature animals with glasses and background colors that match the accent wallcovering in the room.

This project illustrates a blend of both science and art. It challenged the design team to give equal attention to specific functional requirements and fine-tuned aesthetic detail, all while keeping the user’s defined needs at the forefront. Since its opening we’ve received some very positive feedback from the Low Vision Clinic:

“You listened exquisitely well to our special needs and brought us options that were creative, functional, and gorgeous.  As a result, we have created an extraordinary new space that is taking our work to all new levels.”  – Roanne E. Flom, OD, Chief, OSU Low Vision Rehabilitation Service, Professor of Clinical Optometry

Getting positive feedback from clients and patients is the greatest reward; it helped close out the project on a high note. We love to hear that the space was successful at aesthetically emphasizing the brand of the clinic, but also easily navigated and enjoyed by patients and staff alike.

Posted in: Design, Expertise, Healthcare Design, Lighting Design, Projects, Visualization / Graphics Tagged with: , , ,

Workspace Design for Millenials

by on December 21, 2015 - One Comment

We’ve all heard it before, “So what do you see trending these days?” Our clients look to us to be the experts in our field, to know what is coming, and to make sure the end-product isn’t out of date next year. It is a challenge that all designers face throughout the life of their career, and one we must diligently work on so that we continue to push the envelope and deliver spaces that will last the test of time.

Recently I had the opportunity to go to Mohawk’s Future Workspace Design (FWD) event to study and understand what is being predicted for 2020. The event itself is an annual meeting where topics like millenials, color forecasting, and product development are all discussed with designers from all over the world. Some of the keynote speakers and presenters are designers that are at the forefront, pushing the envelope in their own spheres of fashion, trend prediction, and of course, design and architecture. For the 2015 seminar, I was fortunate enough to hear from the founders of INNOCAD and 13&9 Design, the Director of Design from Mohawk, and some of the preeminent trend forecasters, Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano.

For me, the most interesting discussion surrounded the 2020 millenials and what they will look for in the spaces they inhabit. An interesting tidbit is that the speakers all echoed the same topics in most of the talks without them even discussing it beforehand. Here are some of the key terms that were discussed and how they will affect workspace design going forward:

Fluid – Moving from work to home to the gym, then back to work makes life a constant state of fluidity. Time is no longer measured, but simply flows from one event to the next. Information is streaming 24/7, so make time memorable. Introduce rewards for taking a moment of respite at work and make sure you bring a bit of whimsy and humor to these times.

Hybridic – We see the rise of a culture with no conception of time or place. They are global and borrow from varied regions or history as they want to – at times creating surrealistic moments. The blending of all of their varied experiences will result in irreverential design. This emancipation will lead to a rebirth of the forgotten. Colors formally seen as drab will now become chic and unexplored cultures will influence design.

Elisa Storzyk

Elisa Strozyk | “Grey-Black-Birch” wooden rug

Nomadic – Here is where the true transient nature of a millennial will shine through. There will be a blurring of urban to rural, so that the edges of the city become more populated. Natural materials will landscape the space, creating a connection to the building’s surroundings and the city’s culture. The future form of the farmhouse will rise more as we see more mixing of organic, nature-respective and farm-like living. Farm to table is only the beginning.

Tactile – The required authenticity of the future generations comes into play with the handmade: those things that look to be original. Yarns, threads, weaving, and quilted are examples of how textiles will be directed. We will celebrate the process. The arts and crafts movement will once again take form. Originality will affect branding in using original artwork that is hand painted and unique. This new style is called calligraffiti.

Aleksandra Gaca - architextile

Aleksandra Gaca | Architextile – Acoustic Textile Panels

From these terms and ideas a place of emancipation will come. As with every generation and turn of culture, we see the old ideas and thoughts become nonbinding. This means that what was once considered taboo will now be embraced as a truth that must be told. So we must be more thoughtful in our design and intent, be purposeful with our resources and materials, and tell a story.

For more information on this event and next year’s please visit,

Posted in: Commercial Office, Design, Design Trends, Expertise, Workplace Culture Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Real Estate Trends 2016

by on December 11, 2015 - Leave A Comment

Last week Urban Land Institute Columbus (ULI) hosted local and national leaders to share insights on real estate trends. ULI conducted a report in late September to collect feedback from industry experts so it could assess the condition of Central Ohio’s real estate market. ULI also brought in a national expert to speak to broader real estate trends.

Among the speakers was Jung Kim, Managing Director of Research and Business Intelligence from Columbus2020. Kim shared that while many believe millennials are acting similarly to the generations that preceded them, they’re developing or “growing-up” later than previous generations. They still want a place to stake claim (as well as good school districts), just like the generations before them. Once they reach the age of settling down and growing their family, they will likely move to smaller communities that are close to or even inside a major city.

This has also had impact in corporate real estate. With millennials moving to the central hub, commercial real estate continues to be the more attractive option for office space, as opposed to outlying suburban areas. Anything being built in and around the downtown area is booming.

Northwestern Mutual Columbus Office

Located just outside downtown in Grandview Heights, Northwestern Mutual’s new office space appeals to a broad range of employees and clients through its “urban residential” design.

While millennials are a hot topic right now, presenter Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, shared that the aging baby boomer generation is also a focus. Over the next 15 years, as this generation hits retirement age they will have to reevaluate housing needs. Accessibility and convenience will become priorities and large, two-story homes will make less sense. Also, once their kids are established and they become true empty nesters, baby boomers will need to downsize.

New single-family housing construction is still well below normal historic levels and homeownership is as low as it’s been since the 1990’s, yet multi-family housing is doing incredibly well—actually, growing at levels never before seen. However, that might not last well into the future. Herbert indicated that it looks eerily similar to the late housing crisis bubble.

However, there is opportunity to offset any negative impact to the multi-family housing boom, with millennials and boomers “trading places.” Multi-family real estate could shift to accommodate retirees, instead of young professionals through continuing care retirement communities. These developments provide single-family homes, independent living, assisted living, and nursing homes all within one community, allowing couples to move into more appropriate housing as they age without disruption to daily routines and a network of support, both physically and emotionally.

Delaware Place Senior Housing

Senior housing development, Delaware Place, offers accessibility and community through its multi-family offering, as well as the onsite single-family homes.

If there is an economic bubble occurring in the multi-family market, diversification is a tactic learned from the last recession. Those surveyed in Central Ohio tend to believe the best way to hedge against another sector crash is to diversify rather than pull out and reduce risk. It’s important to not only ride the wave, but to take necessary steps to limit the crashes impact on overall business.

Posted in: Community, Design Trends, Local Developments, M+A News, Multi-family Residential, Press Release, Senior Housing Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

2016 Building Code Update

by on December 3, 2015 - One Comment

Building CodeAs we end each year, there always seems to be a mystery as to what edition or what changes may occur in the upcoming year, relative to the building code. Last week, while at a State of Ohio sponsored seminar, I found out that for 2016 a new code edition of International Building Code (IBC) as the basis will not be released. Instead, effective January 1, 2016, there will be another set of amendments to be incorporated into current building code. (IBC 2009)

Some of the major changes that may be expected include the following:

1. Several new definitions in Chapter 2 are to be added, including 24 hour care definition, incapable of self-preservation, modifications to definition of ambulatory health care facility, historic building, with the definition for adult family home to be deleted.

2. Chapter 3 for Use and Occupancy classifications will have casinos and cafeterias added to assembly use.

3. NFPA 221 is added as a reference for construction of double fire walls.

4. In chapter 7, two new exceptions are added to membrane protection requirements, 1 exception added for exterior curtain wall intersection requirements, and 1 exception added for fire damper requirements.

5. Chapter 9 has added emergency voice/alarm communication systems for schools. And domestic type hood suppression systems meeting UL 300A is added.

6. Several fuel tank requirements and standards are added to the Ohio Mechanical Code.

7. Plumbing fixture requirements for casinos is added to the plumbing fixture table. The maximum length of a combination drain and vent system is allowed to be unlimited, and single stack venti systems are added as allowable method.

8. In the Residential Code of Ohio, exceptions for vapor retarder requirements in Chapter 506.2.3 of the RCO is clarified.

9. The electrical code edition for residential will be NFPA 70, 2014 edition on January 1, 2016.

This is a quick update as of now. It appears that the changes that we will experience at the start of the year will not be too extensive or difficult to address.

City of Columbus Building Code

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