Parking spaces.  How many do I need?

Parking spaces. How many do I need?

Are you planning on a new building or a tenant improvement.  Wondering how many parking spaces do I need?   Whether it is for a small office, retail, mercantile, restaurant or something even larger, like a large sport complex?   Number of parking spaces ultimately comes down to how many users you have.  Parking ultimately is determined by zoning laws however this blog will explain some rule of thumbs.  Parking spaces can be quite costly however not providing enough spaces can also be costly as users could be turned off by a lack of spaces.

parking spaces. How many do I need?

 As an Architect, I interact with clients, engineers and contractors who have acquired bits of information about Building Codes.  Sometimes, those bits are misconceptions and regurgitated information.  The building codes can be intimidating and have no beginning or end. To learn the code, the best way is jumping in feet first.  

Upcoming Blog Posts

In the next series of blog posts, I will explore common Building Codes.    Each City has adopted a code but most in Arizona use the IBC (International Building Code).

The following blog posts are:

  1. Door swing direction.  Which way should the door swing, out of a room or in?
  2. Number of exits within a room?
  3. Door Size.  Who said “size doesn’t matter.”
  4. Exit corridor width.  How narrow can a hallway be?
  5. Clearances around a door?  Door arrangement between two doors.  
  6. Door fire ratings.  What is the rating?
  7. Exit Travel Distance  
  8. Do I need an elevator?
  9. Should my door have panic hardware? 
  10. Do I need a drinking fountain?
  11. Minimum size of a Bath Room?
  12. Small commercial space, is one bathroom enough?
  13. How many parking spaces do I need

The item in bold are addressed in this post.  As an Arizona Architect, most City’s jurisdictions work with the IBC (International Building Code).   This code analysis is based upon the IBC.

How many parking spaces do I need?

When designing a building or renovating an existing building, having enough parking is crucial to the function of the building.  However there can be a point where overbuilding parking can be costly.  Parking takes up space on a site.   On grade parking and parking structures have an associated cost per space.

Parking quantities can also be difficult to quantify for places that may have times of heavy use for special events.  Buildings like a shopping center, may see an influx of parking during holiday shopping.  Complexes like a strip mall that contain a church may see heavy use for a  Sunday service but have lighter parking needs during remainder of the week.  Therefore, there is not one correct number of spaces, but some rules of thumbs that one can follow to ensure that in most scenarios, parking can handle the average flow.

The Parking Space

Parking spaces range in size from (8 1/2 ft x 18 ft)  to  (9 1/2 ft x 18 ft.).  The city jurisdiction will dictate however I prefer the wider spaces.  Living in Arizona, surrounded by many trucks, providing a slightly wider space minimizes the possibility of door dings.  On occasion, tandem parking is permitted for multi-family developments, however at a 9 1/2 ft width space.

In some jurisdictions, if double striped spaces are used in 50% of the spaces provided, parking space width can be reduced for the remaining 50% of spaces to 9 ft.  Double stripes are typical 12″ wide.  Some cities allow compact spaces when their are in excess of the required spaces at a size of 8 ft X 16 ft.  Good for a mini cooper or Smart Car.

The Parking Drive Aisle

Parking aisle are typically 24′ in width for two-way traffic.  This allows one to safely back out of a space and for fire truck maneuvering.

Parking quantity by use (refer to your local zoning code, however below is an example)


2 parking spaces per dwelling unit


office, business or professional – 1 space / 350 sf

restaurant – 1 space per 100 sf

veterinary clinic – 1 space per 600 sf

As you can see, various types of uses determine the # of parking spaces required. Once that total number of parking spaces has been calculated, a specific number of ADA spaces will be required. One example is 1 space for the first 25, s ADA parking spaces for 25-50 et5c.

Also some municipalities after a specific size building will require a loading space. One example I found was no loading space for buildings under 15,000 sf. Buildings from 15,000 – 49,999 square feet require 1 etc.


When looking at a property and determining the number of parking spaces required, first look at the local Planning and Zoning requirements to determine the minimum number of parking spaces required. Also look at your use to make sure you have met your business needs. Remember that when a site has too few parking spaces or the layout of the site is not easy to move around, this may deter people from wanting to stop by to your business.

If you have any doubts before signing that lease or purchasing a property, consult with a trained design professional to ensure your project and business success.

Touchless Technology in Architecture

Touchless Technology for Architecture has been around for many years. We have seen this technology show up in door hardware & bathroom fixtures. All this technology can change the way architecture is designed. In designing the built environment, Architects need to be aware of these technologies and ways to best implement them into the design. Prior to Covid affecting the way we thought about design, we didn’t dwell on these technologies. Installation of Touchless products were for convenience or where cost didn’t prohibit them. I always wondered why all bathrooms weren’t designed with motion censored items. I presume it mainly comes down to cost. However, now wee are starting to see products that are quickly being implemented. Below are a few simple products that can be added to a current design or retrofitted into an existing space.


For many years, public bathrooms had technology for touchless (motion activated) sinks and toilets. Even though available, I have still seen countless restrooms not utilizing them. I believe it will be more common place in the years to come. Below is a product I saw almost 20 years ago within a restroom in switzerland. Example – Brill Hygienic Products. No more worries about the paper seat cover blowing out from under you when you go to take a seat.

I also saw this seat cover in Switzerland which squeegee’s the seat after every use. Interesting concept if you want to sit down on the toilet seat directly.

Touchless sink faucet are prevolent throughout. However, below is one example of a product that washes your hand and dry’s them all in one place.


Now that we have used the bathroom and presumably wash your hands, who wants to touch the door. The newest solution I have seen for opening bathroom doors is the foot pull.

Its a pretty good idea, assuming the door is not too heavy. Its the simplest solution which could be added to any door. Another solution coming to market is the motionless door opener tied to a automatic door opener/ closer. The door opener has been around for many years but prior to Covid, not utilized most likely because of cost.


Water filling stations have been around for many years, but it is starting to show up in more locations as it avoids having to touch a drinking fountain and minimizes the one time use water bottle use.

Open Stair Treads

Open Stair Treads

Open stair tread design is very beautiful. They give the appearance of the stair floating. They give a light and airy feeling to a sometimes forgotten design element. Do you want an open stair tread in your design? Their are specific requirements for how large the tread needs to be, the minimum and maximum height between treads. Some of the most beautiful stairs have open stair treads. Can you use them in your next project?

Code Analysis – Open Stair Treads

Building codes sections about stairs are very lengthy. They go into detail about length and width of treads, where handrails are needed etc. The code is very clear when open stair treads are allowed . Per IBC 1011.5.5.3, Solid Risers “Risers shall be solid“. Their are a few exceptions to open stair treads.

  1. Solid risers are not required for stairways that are not required to comply with Section 1009.3 provided that the treads do not permit the passage of a sphere with a diameter of 4 inches. (Interpretation – Essentially it means any stairway not required for the exiting of the building or one which is in excess of the required stairs can have open stair risers). Occasionally, you will see a commercial building with a grand stairway in a lobby that has open treads. I believe this is how they are able to achieve this. The 4″ diameter is the same rule of thumb for stair guardrails or guardrails at balconies. This is eliminate the possibility of a small child from slipping between the cracks. Never a good thing.
  2. Solid risers are not required for occupancies in group I-3 or in Group F, H and S occupancies other than areas accessible to the public. The size of the opening in the riser is not restricted. (Interpretation – can occur in industrial, factory, hazardous and storage facilities. This is why you generally see them occur in those conditions.)
  3. Solid risers are not required for spiral stairways constructed in accordance with Section 1011.10.

In residential applications, you will see the majority of the open risers stairs. Some defy gravity and cantilever off the walls. They can be a work of art within a space. This is why, architects push the design envelope in residential design when designing stairs. The IRC, Section R311.7.5.1, specifically states “At open risers, openings located more than 30 inches, as measured vertically, to the floor or grade below shall not permit the passage of a 4 inch diameter sphere. (Interpretation – Open treads allowable anywhere in a residence as long as their is not an opening greater than 4″).


Open stair treads can add a beautiful element to any architectural design. Can you use this design element? Current code does not allow it in some commercial applications. They are not allowed as a required exit in a commercial project. They are allowed in occupancies such as Industrial, factories, storage facilities and hazardous occupancies. Use them in any of your residential projects. As with all projects, Check with your local jurisdiction to ensure your projects success. As with all design elements, their are exceptions to the rules.

Office Design – Sliding or swinging doors

Office Design – Sliding or swinging doors

Efficiency is important in office Design, whether it’s improvements to an existing space or a new building. Swinging doors are typical, however in certain applications, a sliding door is allowable by code and can improve the plan. Should you use a Swinging doors or sliding doors in your design?


Swinging doors take up room to allow for them to open and close. Sliding doors are more compact. A swinging door will open up to a wall. Doors can open 180 degrees against a wall, but in a smaller office, there may not be room for this to occur. Remember to provide the necessary clearances around doors as described in the post “Clearance around a door”. In a space with millwork or cabinets, a swinging door in its open position will affect accessibility to millwork. Below are a few scenarios.


Office Design with 90 degree swinging door


Office Design


Office design with 180 degree swinging door


Office Design
ADA compliance affected. Room will require more room to meet door clearances.


Office design with sliding door


office design
Space is more efficient allowing for a more functional space.


The sliding door is much more efficient. If located properly, it allows for additional wall space where the door would swing to place more furniture or more maneuverability within the space


In locations such as a breakroom, millwork or other elements may conflict with swinging doors. In the two examples below, one layout shows where a sliding door will improve the functionality of the space.


Breakroom with swinging vs sliding door



When is a sliding door allowed?


There are a few instances where sliding doors are allowed by code. The following are some examples based upon the 2018 IBC codes. check your local jurisdiction for current code adopted and their interpretation.


Per section 1010.1.2 Door Swing. – Egress doors shall be of the pivoted or side-hinged swinging type. Exceptions where this doesn’t apply:


  1. Private garages, office areas, factory and storage areas with an occupant load of 10 or less.
  2. Group I-3 occupancies used as a place of detention.
  3. Critical or intensive Care patient rooms within suites or health care facilities.
  4. Doors within or serving a single dwelling unit in Groups R-2 and R-3.
  5. In other than Group H occupancies, revolving doors complying with Section 1010.4.1.
  6. In other than group H occupancies, special purpose sliding, accordion or folding door assemblies complying with Section 1010.1.4.3. This pertains to specialty doors which are power operated etc. Example of this is in grocery stores. The doors typical have the ability to hinge during a emergency or when the power disrupts the operation of the door and remains in a closed position.
  7. Power-operating doors in accordance with Section 1010.1.4.2.
  8. Doors serving a bathroom within an individual sleeping unit in Group R-1.
  9. In other Group H occupancies, manually operated horizontal doors are permitted in a means of egress from spaces with an occupant load of 10 or less.


Items in blue, exception 1 and 9 pertain to office spaces.


There are various solutions for sliding doors. Ensure the solution you select meets ADA requirements. Acoustical properties is another factor to consider when picking the type of sliding door. A typical barn door will not have acoustical properties as it doesn’t have a seal at the opening, so if this is a concern, do some research on the type of door system. There are numerous examples of acoustical sliding doors. One example that has acoustical properties is AD Systems.




When planning your next office, determine if sliding doors would be a solution to make your office design more efficient. Will it save space and make it more functional. Follow the examples above for reference but as always, refer to the local jurisdiction, the current ADA guidelines and a local professional to ensure your projects success.





The Perfect Customer Lounge

The Perfect Customer Lounge

What are the key ingredients to a good customer lounge?

Taking a break from the daily grind is important.  Getting up from your chair, your cubicle or just out of your working environment and relaxing your eyes on a different environment other than the screen 1 foot away from your face is a great visual relax.

Now that your out from behind the computer, don’t let the lure of your smartphone take you to another screen merely inches from your face.  If you can take a walk outside to decompress, then get some fresh air.   If you’re in a neighborhood where taking a walk could be a health risk, the weather is not conducive or you just want to hang out with friends,  hopefully your office has a comfortable customer lounge with nice amenities to decompress.

Elements to the Perfect Lounge

What are some nice elements to have in a customer lounge?  Below is a wish list I put together for the ultimate break room to allow for someone to blow off some steam at work.  But every project and client has their unique desires.  Let me know what would be on your list.

My desired list of the perfect Lounge

Variety of seating arrangements.  Places to recline, like a couch or large comfortable armchair.  Small Tables with Bench seating or movable chairs for eating a snack or chatting with colleagues.   Barstool with table for a quick bite, drink or chat.

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Water and ice dispenser.  Important to have clean cool refreshing water at your disposal.  Ice for those who want a cool drink on a hot day.

       water ice dispenser

Insta hot water dispenser.  For those tea drinkers, having a readily available hot water to seep the tea bag is wonderful on a cold winter day.

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Coffee.  A Coffee dispenser, such as an automatic dispenser with a variety of options for mochas, lattes, hot chocolate, milk, sugar etc.

automatic coffee

Refrigerator.  This item would work if there were some rules established so there aren’t items left in there for scientific reasons.  Establish a purge on Friday’s to keep things in order.  It’s difficult enough to keep the refrigerator at home purged of expired items.  But for those who want to bring their lunch or a snack, a nice feature to have.

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Vending machine for important carbs or candy urges.  A good bar of chocolate can help you through the day.

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Ping pong or pool table.  A quick game of nonsense can relieve stress of the brain grind.

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Television.  Try to put something light on, not CNN.  Hearing about the latest stock dip or catastrophe isn’t the best way to relieve tension.  How about some Joe Gatto with Impracticable Jokers or the Family Guy.  Or in my case, car shows.

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A box full of kittens.  Kind of joking about that, but just imagine the stress they could release.

Customer Lounge Design

I just recently designed a customer lounge for a client.  It was lacking a few of my wish list items but with the amount of available space we had to work with, the finishes and furnishing we were able to incorporate, it would be a place I definitely would enjoy hanging out in.

Currently working on another lounge, for a client’s corporate offices.  Most likely have seating areas, water and coffee station, refrigerator for beverages, television etc.  I’ll forgo presenting the idea of a box full of kittens though.

 Let me know what would be on your list.