Esprit – A Five-Story Wood Framed Multifamily Project


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Esprit is a luxury apartment development on two parcels of land in Marina del Rey, California that chose to use wood as the main building material. In this presentation, from the 2013 AIA convention, discover why wood was the ideal structural material for the Esprit project to achieve high-density mid-rise buildings. Review the building code requirements for designing 5 to 7 story wood-framed multifamily projects.

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Esprit – A Five-Story Wood Framed Multifamily Project

  1. 1. EE152Case Study: Esprit
  2. 2. This presentation is protected by U.S.and international copyright laws.Reproduction, distribution, display anduse of the presentation without writtenpermission of the speaker is prohibited.
  3. 3. This program is registered with AIA CES for continuingprofessional education. As such, it does not includecontent that may be deemed or construed to constituteapproval, sponsorship or endorsement by the AIA of anymethod, product, service, enterprise or organization. Thestatements expressed by speakers, panelists, and otherparticipants reflect their own views and do not necessarilyreflect the views or positions of The AIA or of AIAcomponents, or those of their respective officers,directors, members, employees, or other organizations,groups or individuals associated with them. Questionsrelated to specific products, publications, and servicesmay be addressed at the conclusion of this presentation.
  4. 4. Learning Objectives1. Discover why wood was the ideal structural material for theEsprit project and others like it to achieve high-density mid-risebuildings.2. Review the building code requirements for designing five-storyand higher wood-framed multifamily projects.3. Explore the construction challenges of building five stories andhigher with wood framing.4. Discuss the height and area limitations of designing five-storywood-frame multifamily buildings.
  5. 5. EspritMarina del Ray, CALisa Podesto, MS, PESeniorTechnical Director, WoodWorks
  6. 6. Esprit Luxury ApartmentsLocation:Marina del Rey, CAArchitect:Togawa Smith Martin, Inc.Engineer:Group M EngineersSize:5 buildings – 482 unitsCompleted:2007 – Phase One Esprit is a luxury apartment development on two parcels of land in Marina del Rey,California. It’s unique in that it accommodates both apartment dwellers andboaters. Boat slips surround the project and the units are creatively configured toinclude a mix of apartment types, from flats to multi-level townhouses, and toprovide views for all units.
  7. 7. Phase One of Esprit includes five buildings and 482 units. Phase Two will include anadditional 640 units for a total of 1,022.The buildings in the background include four stories of Type V wood constructionover a Type I concrete podium.The buildings in the foreground include five stories of Type III wood constructionover a Type I podium.Phase One was designed under the previous building code which allowed amaximum height of 65 feet for wood-frame construction. The current version of thecode allows taller wood buildings … and the architect of this project, Tim Smith,says he’ll take advantage of the new provisions to go higher with Phase Two.Esprit4-story buildings5-story buildingsEvery unit hasa view
  8. 8. Wood buildings:How high can we go?
  9. 9. Most midrise wood buildings are Type VConstruction and four stories or less.However, Type III offers far greateropportunities for achieving high densityat a relatively low cost ... while of coursemeeting all requirements for safety andperformance.Like all construction types, Type III hasbase limitations with regard to height,number of stories and square footage.However, the IBC allows increases tothese tabular amounts per other codesections.Base Code Height1989 – UBCBase code height – Table 5BType IIIA / 2009 – IBCBase code height – Table 503
  10. 10. For example, when a building has an NFPA 13-compliantautomatic sprinkler system, the floor area can be increasedby 300% for a one-story building and 200% for a multi-storybuilding. In addition to the area increase, IBC Section 504.2allows a 20-foot increase to the tabular building height andan additional story above the grade plane. The exception tohis is Group I-2 occupancies, which include hospitals andnursing homes and are not allowed the extra story.Adding an automatic sprinkler system not only means thata five-story wood building is allowed, it means a maximumheight of 85 feet instead of 65 feet. So how do we maximizethe vertical envelope to take advantage of the extra heightwhen a typical five-story building is only about 55 feet?1989 – UBCSprinkler increase – Section 506Type IIIA / 2009 – IBCSprinkler increase – Section 504Add 1 floorIncrease height 20 feetSprinkler System
  11. 11. First we add another level. Under the 2009 IBC, you can add awood-frame mezzanine on top of a multi-story woodbuilding. The area of the mezzanine can’t be more than 1/3 ofthe floor below and isn’t defined as a ‘floor’ or ‘story.’Starting with the base height and then adding a sprinklersystem and now a mezzanine gets us to six levels of wood-frame construction and about 65 feet in height.1989 – UBC1989 – UBCMezzanine – Section 507Type IIIA / 2009 – IBCMezzanine – Section 505Add level 1/3 of floor below& not defined as a floorMezzanine
  12. 12. A Type I podium increases the height of thebuilding even further. The wood-frame andconcrete portions of a podium building aredesigned as two separate structures with a 3-hourfire separation between them.A podium designed for retail is typically about 15’high. So, adding our sprinkler system, mezzanineand now a podium takes us to seven above-ground levels and about 70 to 75 feet in height.And how do we get to 85 feet?1989 – UBCPodium – Section 311.2.2.12009 – IBCType IIIA / 2009 – IBCType I Podium – Section 509.2Separate buildings for area and stories3-hour separation between Type I and IIIPodium
  13. 13. … We use a sloping site to our advantage.The IBC recognizes that the world isn’t flat. It allows semi-basements or daylight basements providing they don’t extendfrom grade more than 12 feet at any one point and don’t extendmore than 6 feet from the average grade. As with mezzanines,this ‘basement’ level is not considered a ‘floor’ or ‘story’ … but itgives us an eight-level building that’s in the range of 85 feethigh.Using a combination of Type III and Type I, we’ve nowmaximized the vertical envelope.Semi-Basement1989 – UBCHeight definition – Section 208Type IIIA / 2009 – IBCGrade plane definition – Section 502Add another level withdaylight basement
  14. 14. Esprit was designed under the previous code, whichhad a maximum height of 65 feet measured from thehigh side of the site and 75 feet from the low side ofthe site. Still, theType III buildings took advantage ofautomatic sprinklers to achieve five stories, a podiumfor parking, and a daylight basement for parking.PhaseTwo will also include a mezzanine.Esprit
  15. 15. Density SummaryUnits/Acre5-story wrap & 4-story podium 60-805-story with subterranean 100-120parking5-story with retail podium 100-1205-story with residential podium 120-1405-story with mezzanine + 125-145residential podiumZoning dictates density limits, and these are the average densities for different types of 5-story wood buildings.The bottom line: by taking advantage of Type III construction and the different code provisions, we can achieve densities in the range of 145 units per acre. Tim says his firm, Togawa Smith Martin, hasreached 165 units per acre with a wood-frame building. When you get to this level of density, you’re competing with Type I structures that are 10 and 11 stories … and you’re doing it for about a thirdless the cost. Tim says that a typical Type III building over a podium costs about $200/square foot, while a Type I building costs $275-$300/square foot.
  16. 16. DoType III wood buildings havespecial fire protectionrequirements?
  17. 17. • Exterior bearingwalls – 1-hour• Fire walls – 2-hour• Exterior walls – FRTlumber• Exterior bearingwalls – 2-hour• Fire walls – 3-hourTypeV-A Type III-AIn many ways, Type V and Type III wood buildings have similar requirements. The key differences are:• In Type III buildings, exterior walls must be of non-combustible materials so fire-retardant-treated woodmust be used. In a Type V building, exterior walls can be of any material permitted by the IBC.• Exterior bearing walls are 2-hour-rated in Type III buildingsinstead of 1-hour.• And fire walls have to be 3-hour rated instead of 2-hours.Although these differences can increase construction costs somewhere between 8 and 15 percent, TypeIII is still highly cost effective when compared to Type I buildings.
  18. 18. Here’s an example detail showing 2-hourexterior walls. Note that an additional layer ofdrywall is needed on either side to achievethat rating.The important thing to note is thatonly bearing walls have to be 2-hour rated, notall of the walls in aType III building.
  19. 19. As a result, it’s useful to minimize bearing walls on the exterior of the building in order to keep construction costs down. One way to do this is to keep theframing parallel to the exterior wall, which means the majority of exterior walls are non-bearing. This is a technique Tim used with Esprit and he says itmakes the construction costs of a Type III building comparable to Type V.• Frame to demising walls rather thanexterior walls.• At last exterior walls frame tobeams/columns.Other Alternatives
  20. 20. This photo shows two examplesof damp-proofing.Damp-proofing
  21. 21. What are some other designconsiderations forType IIIbuildings?
  22. 22. A B CZone of MovementTraditional platform framing used in low-rise construction can also be used in mid-rise projects, but special attention has to be paid to the floor-to-wall detail in order to minimizecumulative building shrinkage, which becomes more of an issue the more floors you have. The other options is to use semi-balloon framing which is popular with Type III mid-risebecause it also addresses FRT and 2-hr rating continuity at the exterior wall. Esprit used semi-balloon framing.
  23. 23. With taller wood buildings, you also have toaddress seismic and wind forces. As with thisbuilding, Esprit included exterior plywoodshear walls.Exterior Plywood Shear Walls
  24. 24. Continuous tie rods andcompression studs aretypically used at the ends ofthe shear panels, which canpose a challenge withregard to mechanical andelectrical systems.Rods and Compression Studs
  25. 25. One answer is to separate the plumbing wallsfrom the shear walls, as shown here, so there’sno conflict.Separate Shear and PlumbingWalls
  26. 26. Size and spacing of studs also need to beconsidered.To hold the weight of thestructure, lower floors require closer spacingand/or bigger studs. Usually only the top twofloors use 2x4s at 16 inches on center.Stud Size and Spacing
  27. 27. Water proofing is also essential.Woodbuildings will last as long as you want them toproviding you keep them water tight.Tallerbuildings require more sophisticated waterproofing systems than a one- or two-storyhouse.Waterproofing
  28. 28. Is cost the main impetus for tallerwood buildings?
  29. 29. • Versatility• Workability• Experiencedtrades• Speed• Adaptability• EnvironmentalPerformanceBenefits ofWoodAmericana at BrandGlendale, CaliforniaArchitect:Togawa Smith Martin, Inc.Photo: Michelle Kam-BironWood has a variety of advantages that make it ideal for mid-rise buildings.The buildingshown was designed by the same architect as Esprit and is part of the Americana atBrand complex in Glendale. It includes 238 apartments, 100 luxury condominiums, 75upscale shops, and a 2-acre central park.
  30. 30. • Renewable• Sustainable• Embodied energy• Energy-efficient• Light carbonfootprintEnvironmental BenefitsAlthough cost is often cited as the mainreason to use wood, its environmentalbenefits—and its light carbon footprint inparticular—have been cited around the worldas a driving force behind taller wood buildings.
  31. 31. In North America, five- and even six-storywood buildings are becoming common. Thisis the first phase of Library Square, one of thefirst buildings to take advantage of a codechange in British Columbia that increased themaximum number of stories in residentialbuildings from four to six.Evolution UpwardLibrary Square6 storiesPhase 1 completed 2010British ColumbiaJM ArchitectsPhoto:
  32. 32. And these are the carbon benefits for LibrarySquare.The volume ofwood in the building was entered into a free carbon calculator that’savailable at calculator then estimated the howmuch carbon is stored in that volume of wood … the greenhouse gasemissions avoided by using wood instead of steel or concrete … andhow long it takes NorthAmerican forests to grow that volume ofwood. It also used the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculatorto translate those figures into relatable units.Source: Estimated by theWoodCarbon Calculator for Buildings, basedon research by Sathre, R. andJ. O’Connor, 2010, A Synthesis of ResearchonWood Products and Greenhouse Gas Impacts, FPInnovations CO2refers to CO2 equivalent.Carbon Benefits
  33. 33. Elsewhere in the world,building codes have allowedeven taller wood buildings.This 10-story building inAustralia is made from crosslaminated timber (CLT) and iscurrently the world’s tallestall-wood apartment building.In the U.S., the InternationalCode Council recentlyapproved changes that willsee CLT recognized in the2015 IBC.Evolution UpwardForté10 storiesAustraliaDeveloper and photo: LendLease
  34. 34. A report from Canadian architectMichael Green of MGA and J. EricKarsh from Equilibrium ConsultingInc.—The Case for Tall WoodBuildings: How Mass Timber Offers aSafe, Economical, andEnvironmentally Friendly Alternativefor Tall Building Structures—outlines a compelling case forbuilding even taller wood buildings.It shows that mid-rise buildings (6-12 stories) and tall buildings (up to30 stories) can be safely, efficiently,and economically built using masstimber construction techniques.Evolution UpwardThe Case forTallWood BuildingsMichael GreenAIBC FRAIC AIAEric KarshMEng, PEng, StructEng, MIStructE, Ing.Canadian Solution
  35. 35. A report from Canadian architectMichael Green of MGA and J. EricKarsh from Equilibrium ConsultingInc.—The Case for Tall WoodBuildings: How Mass Timber Offers aSafe, Economical, andEnvironmentally Friendly Alternativefor Tall Building Structures—outlinesa compelling case for building eventaller wood buildings. It shows thatmid-rise buildings (6-12 stories) andtall buildings (up to 30 stories) can besafely, efficiently, and economicallybuilt using mass timber constructiontechniques.Evolution UpwardLife CycleTowerCREE by RhombergAustrian ConceptLocal Solution
  36. 36. A report from Canadian architectMichael Green of MGA and J.Eric Karsh from EquilibriumConsulting Inc.—The Case for TallWood Buildings: How MassTimber Offers a Safe, Economical,and Environmentally FriendlyAlternative for Tall BuildingStructures—outlines acompelling case for buildingeven taller wood buildings. Itshows that mid-rise buildings (6-12 stories) and tall buildings (upto 30 stories) can be safely,efficiently, and economicallybuilt using mass timberconstruction techniques.Evolution Upward40 Story Wood OfficeTowerCEI ArchitectureNAOIP Office Building of theFuture Design Competition
  37. 37. A report from Canadianarchitect Michael Green ofMGA and J. Eric Karsh fromEquilibrium ConsultingInc.—The Case for TallWood Buildings: How MassTimber Offers a Safe,Economical, andEnvironmentally FriendlyAlternative for Tall BuildingStructures—outlines acompelling case forbuilding even taller woodbuildings. It shows thatmid-rise buildings (6-12stories) and tall buildings(up to 30 stories) can besafely, efficiently, andeconomically built usingmass timber constructiontechniques.Evolution UpwardTimberTowerSkidmore, Owings and MerrillMay 2013US Solution
  38. 38. Contact InformationLisa Podesto, MS, PESenior Technical 520-7966