Office Architecture in Arizona

Office Architecture in Arizona

Office Architecture in Arizona

When finding an office Architecture in Arizona for rent within existing real estate, some research should be completed before signing a lease.   Relying on a Realtor may not provide you with the full spectrum of issues regarding your office improvements.    If you are making modifications and doing a tenant improvement, hiring an architect to do this initial research can inform you about potential modifications required by zoning and building code requirements.  Even if you are looking at merely changing some finishes, other factors may affect the project scope.

Items to look at:
  1. Building code of original construction
  2. Current Building code and its impact upon proposed use
  3. Type of occupancy at time of construction vs. type of occupancy proposed for your use
  4. Zoning and intended uses

Because each building and space is unique within office architecture, the architect will need to look at the original set of approved drawings and determine what changes may be required.  Changes  in occupancy or changes in code can affect the project.

Below is a Case study (example) of a past project.  The client initially thought it was mainly going to upgrade some finishes and adding a few walls and doors.  However once some research was done, the project scope grew.

Case Study

Project desired scope:  Lease approximately 4,000 s.f. office space within existing building with minimal modifications.  Upgrade to finishes as needed.

Office Architecture in Arizona

Office Architecture in Arizona – Existing building space available (shown in red)


Office Architecture in Arizona

Office Architecture in Arizona – Proposed space (shown in green)


The area in green is the desired quantity of space the tenant desired and which sensibly works with the division of the space due to existing walls allowing for a future tenant to be located within the center suite.   This allows for each tenant, to remain unaffected, to have accessibility to entry lobby and existing restrooms.

Issues to Address

  1. Restrooms not accessible to proposed office space unless you travel through middle suite.
  2. Verify if restrooms (# of fixtures or toilets) meets current codes.
  3. Potential issue with exiting.  # of exits and travel distance to exits will need to be analyzed.
  4. Determine if mechanical system zones (area the mech unit serve) is not affected by proposed leasable space.
  5. Determine if electrical systems are distributed properly for a division of the space into 2 separate suites.
  6. Verify number of parking spaces required/available affected by the proposed modification.


It was determined that the existing building, constructed about 25 years ago, was initially designed as a product showroom, not offices.  It was initially established as an Occupancy A (Assmebly)  Proposed use of the new tenant was to be Occupancy B (Office).  Based upon our code analysis, it was determined it had an affect on conflict 2 or quantity of toilets as explained below.

Conflict 1Restroom not accessible to space.  A corridor was added to allow for access to the existing restrooms while adding a second exit from the space.

Conflict 2 – Verify restrooms meet code.  Because Assembly occupancies do not require as many plumbing fixtures than Office space per occupant, the existing quantity of restrooms were adequate in the original use.  With the change of occupancy to ‘B’ Office, the # of plumbing fixtures was not adequate.  Therefore, one additional toilet stall was added to satisfy codes.   (see calculations below).  To minimize affecting the original restroom (not affecting its use by existing tenant and affecting existing finishes), it was decided that a 1 person restroom would satisfy the requirement of an additional toilet fixture.  This was not a desired addition to scope because of the additional construction cost, but solely to satisfy the building code requirements.

Conflict 3 – Potential issue with existing?  The office space as proposed met all exiting requirements.  Quantity of occupants did not exceed the number to trigger additional exits.  However, because of the accessibility to the restrooms, a second exit was provided.

Conflict 4 Determine if mechanical system zones need modifications.  Because of the original layout, the mechanical zones were not exactly divided into the zones that were established by the new wall creating the future tenant space.  Therefore, ductwork modifications and a new mechanical unit was required to allow for the mechanical systems to function properly.   This was an unknown addition to the project that the real estate agent would not be able to forsee. 

Conflict 5 – Determine if electrical systems are distributed properly.  It was determined, not to our surprise, that the electrical systems required separation of power to the 2 suites created.  In reality, it could have remained more or less the same but by isolating the power, it allows for the building owner to clearly understand how much power each individual suite utilizes.

Conflict 6 Is the number of parking spaces required/available affected?  Fortunately because the occupant load from Assembly to Office reduced the number of occupants within the space, the number of existing parking spaces were more than adequate.  No changes required.

Office Architecture in Arizona

Office Layout

Additional code analysis information

Office Architecture in Arizona - Building code analysis


When finding an office space for rent, even in a simple remodel as shown in the case study, you can see how important research of issues are prior to signing a lease.  The analysis will provide you with a more clear understanding of the possible scope  due to  modifications to the existing building systems, required updates due to current building codes and occupancy changes.

If you are considering an office architecture in the near future, hiring an architect can help you make good choices.

Finding an Architect in Arizona

Finding an Architect in Arizona

Looking for an Architect in Arizona?

Finding an architect in Arizona is similar to searching for a good auto mechanic, a veterinarian, a butcher, a banker, etc.  Most of the time it is word of mouth if you have someone you can trust.  When hiring most services, your relationship with the company or person is important.  Architectural projects can last months or years depending on the scale or complexity of a project, therefore that relationship is important.  Finding the right Architect in Arizona can be done with the following factors:

  1. Expertise
  2. Relationship
  3. Proximity
  4. Responsiveness
  5. Price


Architects go through rigorous training in college, learning about history/theory of architecture, design/communication, technologies, practice/management, community design, preservation and all aspects of design.  Therefore, an architect has an ability to obtain knowledge for any design challenge.  Architects generally specialize in either residential or commercial.  Even though some architects work in both arenas, most lean towards one.   Many architects start in residential architecture getting their feet wet and later design commercial buildings only.

Architect in Arizona - University life as an architect - Jeff Serbin

University life as an architect – Serbin

In the residential arena, architects may specialize in single family homes vs. multi-family or apartments.  In commercial architecture, an architect may become an expert in a specific type of building such as: educational, office buildings, laboratories, warehouse, manufacturing, data center etc.

When finding an architect, ask them about their expertise to determine if their experience may fit your project type.  However, as previous mentioned, an architects training teaches them to gather knowledge on any project, allowing them to truly handle most projects.  Ask most architects, and they will confess they can design any type of building.

Architecture is truly a  team approach.   An architects role is to put together a team of designers and engineers qualified for the type of project.  Therefore, even if the architect itself doesn’t have the type of building on their resume, the teams gathered experiences will allow for a successful project.


Architecture can be a long process lasting months, even years.  For some clients, it may be a one time project and the relationship short.  Some clients have ongoing multiple projects which will foster a relationship that lasts for years.  Nevertheless, the relationship between the architect and client is important.  Getting along with the architect can somewhat be like a marriage.  First is the courtship to determine if you have similar likes/dislikes (styles of architecture and expertise).  Second, is the architect committed to the relationship to assist the client with their goals and aspirations (dedicated to making the building satisfy their needs).  Third, once the honeymoon is over and the project is underway, can the relationship get through the challenges and struggles of the design and  construction process.  Can you communicate your likes and dislikes of the design and talk about money and project budget?

Architect in Arizona - Relationship and Trust

Relationship and Trust


Architecture is a contextual art.  Buildings are designed to relate to the environment.  Architects must understand the general weather, solar aspects and orientation, site irregularities and natural disturbances from weather and even earthquakes.  Since an architect, gathers knowledge on any project, proximity to the project is slightly less important.  An Architect in Arizona must be registered within the State the project is located.  However, hiring an architect for a desert climate like Arizona, one wouldn’t want to hire an architect who designs solely for the tropics.

When hiring local, someone from one side of town to the other, can have little effect upon a project.  So finding an architect anywhere within your metropolitan area or even your state should be adequate.  Most likely, the architect will travel to you to make the project easier.

Architect in Arizona - Map of Phoenix, Arizona area

Proximity of Architect in Arizona


Timely design is important to getting a project completed.  First step is to hire a responsive architect, one who can educate that client on the process process to complete your project.  The architect must determine the necessary steps to getting a permit and oversee the construction.  Each site requires various approvals from local governing jurisdictions.

A time frame should be established for all the steps involved in the project.  From zoning, design reviews, site plan reviews, building plan reviews to general construction durations, establishing a realistic time frame, with some wiggle room, is important. This will allow you to communicate to the architect your concerns if time feels like it’s slipping away.

Architect in Arizona - Running track

Just like running track, you can’t wait around if you want to finish


Design services can vary depending upon the complexity of the project.  The architect is like the ringleader of a circus.  They must gather up the necessary performers (ie. engineers) to allow for a successful show.  Some projects may require specialists to ensure a proper design.  A required, recommended and desired team of engineers could significantly affect the overall design fee.

List of potential engineers (as needed)

  1. Mechanical Engineer
  2. Plumbing Engineer
  3. Electrical engineer
  4. Structural Engineer
  5. Soils engineer
  6. Civil Engineer
  7. Security consultant
  8. Lighting consultant
  9. Acoustical consultant
  10. Landscape architect
  11. Utility Design consultant

Typical architectural fees for commercial projects vary, however ~8% of construction may be reasonable.  However project types and overall construction costs factor into the percentage.  Higher rates may occur due to complexity of the project.  In general, the greater the construction cost, the lower the % fee.  When an architect deals with a smaller project, the percentage is typically higher because of the basic tasks an architect must perform for any project.  Typically I like to refer to “economies of scale”.   If working on a renovation to an existing facility, hiring the original design team or even getting a hold of the original design documents can affect the overall design fees.   Hiring an Architect in Arizona vs. outside the state will also save you time and money since the team doesn’t have to consider travel expenses and time within their fees.

Architect in Arizona - Chase bank

Architects fee is worth every penny


Hiring the right architect is important for a successful project.  One may hire an architect based upon seeing a completed building, word of mouth from a trusted colleague or a simple internet search. However factors such as expertise, relationship, Proximity, responsiveness and price factor into that selection.  An architects expertise or ability to put together a team can create a successful project.  Building the relationship with an architect can allow for trust.  Proximity of the architect to the job site or more importantly, understanding the local area and governing jurisdiction is important for a well designed building.  Responsiveness is important for a timely delivery.  Architects design fee are important to allow for the project to fall within the project budget.  Good luck!

Buckeye Public Art – Round 2

Buckeye Public Art – Round 2

Frequently, Serbin Studio gets pulled away from the design of commercial building to design Public art.  Whether designing a building or a sculpture, a similar process is involved.   Conceptual design of various renditions are created for the Buckeye Main Street Coalition (entity in charge of creating the art), once a direction is selected, construction documentation is developed.  The plans created are submitted to the city for permitting.

The art is a continuation of the sculptures found in Downtown Buckeye previously designed, fabricated and installed near Buckeye City Hall.  That originally involved 4 sculptures that included a tractor, a cowboy roper, a cowgirl barrel racer and a cotton boll.

Art Description

This projects consist of sculptures fabricated from sheets of steel.  The prior sculptures were slightly larger and required their own footings.  This time, our design intent was to design sculptures that would not require the expense of a large concrete footing.  Two of the sculptures are  8′ tall so the effect known as Cantilever – “rigid structural element, such as a beam or a plate, anchored at one endcreated a requirement for the sculptures to be stiff enough to allow for bending forces created from the occasional monsoon wind gust.  This pushed the steel thickness to 3/4″.

A 4′ X 8′ sheet of steel at 3/4″ thick is approx. 1K LBS. This created another fabrication challenge.  Fabrication, maneuvering them around the shop and shop fabrication or cutting of the steel.  Once the sculptures were cut, powder coating would wrap the steel in the desired color.

The location of the sculptures are at 4th street and Monroe in Downtown Historic Buckeye.  If you know the history of Buckeye, this intersection was the main cross streets of a Town that was the thoroughfare from downtown Phoenix to San Diego up to the early 1970’s.  Now I-10 bypasses this quite town, but recently, the town is in its early stages of revival.

Public Art - Downtown Buckeye in the 1930's

Downtown Buckeye in the 1930’s.  It was a busy time back then.

The sculptures are located at the 4 corners of Monroe and 4th street.  They reference the local fauna and flora of Arizona.

The Saguaro and ocotillo are going to be fabricated by the Arizona Corrections.  The Barrel and Prickly cactus will be fabricated by the Buckeye High School Metal shop.

Art Presentation Graphics

Public Art - Saguaro located at Northeast corner of Monroe and 4th Street

Saguaro located at Northeast corner of Monroe and 4th Street


Public Art - ocotillo located at NorthWest corner of Monroe and 4th Street

ocotillo located at NorthWest corner of Monroe and 4th Street


Public Art - Prickly Pear located at SouthWest corner of Monroe and 4th Street

Prickly Pear located at SouthWest corner of Monroe and 4th Street


Public Art - Barrel Cactus located at Southeast corner of Monroe and 4th Street

Barrel Cactus located at Southeast corner of Monroe and 4th Street

Looking forward to more Public Art in downtown Buckeye.

Main Streets Conference Atlanta

Main Streets Conference Atlanta

By: Lara Serbin, Buckeye Main Street Coalition

Last month was the National Main Streets Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The Buckeye Main Street Coalition members Jay Broadbent, Charlene Powers, Brian and Kristi McAchran and Lara Serbin were fortunate to attend this important event.   We had many opportunities to talk to others who are doing similar events, facade improvements and fundraising.  We wanted a different perspective on how to improve historic downtown Buckeye.  March 30 through April 1st was packed with learning sessions at the Omni Hotel. Below are some of the sessions offered:

The Museum on Main Street: The Smithsonian Comes to Town

A Rule Breakers Guide to Accessible, Sustainable and Economical Brick Streetscapes

 Understanding Today’s Sponsors, Matching their expectations to your needs

People Power: Engaging Your Community Members

Activating Space with Community Partnerships

Defining value in down town festivals and events

Crowdfunding for Public Spaces and Community Places

Mobile Workshops explored downtown districts located in and around Atlanta.  City staff, City Managers, Main Street volunteers and business owners took us on walking tours and explained lessons learned regarding revitalization.  There are so many lessons and creative ideas that came out of these tours.   Meeting other Main Street members was a significant way to affirm or re-examine how we do things.  We went to Atlanta to make our downtown Buckeye better.

Buckeye Main Street Coalition at Coca Cola

Buckeye Main Street Coalition at Coca Cola

Atlanta: Historic Downtown Tour

This tour was led by Paul Hammock, Director of Education at the Atlanta Preservation Center.  He took us to Five Points, Grant Park and Martin Luther King National Monument.  He pointed out the wall of mega buildings dividing circulation.   Many historic buildings have been demolished. As with any well developed urban core there have been preservation losses and few wins.  He took us to a 1950’s parking structure where the Victorian Kimball House Hotel the most beautiful hotel in Atlanta used to stand.

Kimball House Hotel Atlanta

Kimball House Hotel Atlanta

1950's Parking Structure replaced Kimball House

1950’s Parking Structure replaced Kimball House


The biggest win for the city of Atlanta is the Fox Theatre saved by the wrecking ball by the local citizens.  A 1928 lavish theater house with Egyptian and Moorish style interior, halls for dining and outdoor roof decks.

Opening Ceremony Atlanta

Opening Ceremony Atlanta

The Opening Plenary Session took place at the Fox Theatre and Buckeye Main Street Coalition held the Arizona sign proudly!  The most memorable stop was Grant Park, a mile south of downtown.  The Atlanta Preservation Center purchased Atlanta’s most significant and endangered house in Atlanta, the antebellum Lemuel P. Grant Mansion. Back in the day this house was king of the hill with acres of cotton. Now the single story is shoe horned among historic homes.   Inside the spaces there are artifacts like stair stringers propped up against the exposed thick walls resembling rammed earth walls of the southwest. Before Atlanta Preservation bought this place it looked like a Roman ruin with no roof and nature taking over. This building restoration gives gave me great hope for the Buckeye Historic Courthouse and Jail that is in such need of stabilization.

Lara Serbin at Atlanta Preservation Center

Lara Serbin at Atlanta Preservation Center


The original wood panel flank the tall window openings.   The last stop in the city core was the Martin Luther King National Monument Landmark.  Several city blocks are reserved for a museum, crypt, visitor center and the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Martin Luther King National Monument

Martin Luther King National Monument


I sat in the church pew and listened to Dr. King to rest from taking photos.  The space had a simple interior and intricate stained glass.  It was a sacred space well cared for.


Tactical Urbanism: 10 Ways to Restore Your Downtown for $500 or Less

In between the mobile tours there were educational workshops. A huge drop cloth, stack of wood pallets and tools told me this was a hands-on 3 hour course.  There were 10 different Tactical Urbanism projects happening simultaneously.

Tactical Urbanism Work Session

Tactical Urbanism Work Session


Volunteers were asked to build things like a flower display and adirondack chair from wood pallets.  Even though a lot of it was staged like a cooking show on Food Network, it held my attention.  While volunteers were constructing, cutting and bolting the mediator was fielding questions like how to not get in trouble with the highway department after tagging bicycle symbols on downtown streets.

Charlene Powers and Cheryl Sedig at Tactical Urbanism Work Session

Charlene Powers and Cheryl Sedig at Tactical Urbanism Work Session

Making an adirondack chair out of wood pallets

Making an adirondack chair out of wood pallets


Maybe that is how most of us want to learn now, with chaos.  At the end of 3 hours the teams had constructed a “Parklet”, chairs set on top of a raised platform with movie screen backdrop.  I think most folks on Main Street organizations are finding ways to get their projects completed lighter, quicker and cheaper.  I walked away with ideas on how to make future workshops in downtown Buckeye more interactive and fun.

Monroe: Creating a Downtown Destination through Local Investors Tour

The road that leads to Monroe is flanked with grand mansions of the cotton era.   Monroe has its dark stories of segregated mass lynching in 1946 and current poverty,  but they acknowledge their past honestly and embrace agrarian roots with pride.  The historic downtown is vibrant with stores like Buckles Hardware, Little Italy’s Peppino’s Pizzaria and Rinse Bath & Body.

Monroe, GA historic downtown

Monroe, GA historic downtown

City officials, Main Street volunteers and buildings owners were there to greet us at The Wayfarer Music Hall a community space to lease. Lemonade, ginger cookies, vase of flowers and goodie bags made me realize the impact of  hospitality.   The owner of the building was there, she was a Monroe native and had rehabilitated the 1910 building into a vital community event center in the historic corridor. The first floor she leases out for events like rehearsal wedding dinners.  A second entrance opens to a flight of narrow wood stairs leading to The Wayfarer Hotel.

The Wayfarer Hotel

The Wayfarer Hotel

The Hotel is self sufficient without check in or full time staff.  The walls have exposed brick and original plaster. Even the coffee bar is a shared space.

The Wayfarer Music Hall

The Wayfarer Music Hall


She kept the improvements to the interior simple by only carving out what was necessary like a 3 compartment sink, hand wash station, ADA restroom and lockbox.  Made me think of Buckeye and how we could so use a space like this to host events.  It is a sign of the times to create a space that has an open ended use.

Keep Marching On with Faith, Hope and Love.  Dr. Martin Luther King