How to Design Mixed-Use Buildings

Mixed use buildings, which have both residential and commercial elements, generally require more construction documentation than regular buildings. This is especially true if the project is large and complex, with varying floor plans and layouts.

Table of Contents: Introduction Designing Mixed-Use Buildings Construction Documents for Mixed-Use Buildings Conclusion

Introduction: What are Mixed Use Buildings? A large number of structures being constructed today are mixed use buildings.  While the concept of mixed use buildings and development are old, the industrial age brought stricter division between working and living spaces and began to normalize traveling long distances for work or leisure. However, mixed use development is slowly returning, especially since a relaxation of mixed use zoning laws in the 1990s.  The terms “mixed use building” and “mixed use development” have multiple meanings and can be applied to a broad range of structures. Real estate projects can be classified as mixed use if they serve more than one purpose within a shared development area or building. For example, some large corporations have converted their office spaces into mixed-use buildings. These complexes have facilities for families to entertain themselves, schools, daycare, shopping centres, dry cleaners, and sleeping accommodation. Mixed use development may include any combination of retail, housing, medical, recreational, commercial, office or industrial spaces. As a result, the construction documentation for mixed use buildings is a little different from that of a “regular” building. This kind of building has to be designed keeping in mind privacy as well as convenience. There are varying needs for each type of space. Types of Mixed Use Developments A mixed use development, according to the Urban Land Institute’s Mixed-Use Development Handbook, needs to provide three or more uses that are revenue-producing (such as hotel, office, residential, and so on), encourage community integration, and develop walkable infrastructure that is safe, accessible and inviting. This also requires adherence to zoning laws. Considering the above, mixed use developments can take on a variety of forms. Some of the most common plans include:  Horizontal Development: These combine various single use buildings into a cohesive, mixed use area, and evolve into walkable communities or even neighbourhoods. Vertical Development: A broader category. They might include a combination of businesses. However, often public facilities or uses such as cafes, restaurants, and government offices are included on the lower floors, while private facilities and uses such as hotel rooms or condo units are located on the higher floors. Main Street: Potentially the oldest type of mixed use property. Condos or apartments are located above commercial spaces. Larger metro areas might place hospitality, service, or entertainment venues on the ground floor, while smaller towns might place locally owned businesses. Department Store or Shopping Mall Conversion: Large department stores and shopping malls that have been vacated can be used for businesses and residential units. Designing Mixed-Use Buildings There have to be precautionary measures to ensure that commercial activity in the building or complex does not interfere with the normal family of the residents. Other considerations such as security and parking need to be precariously handled. The design of a mixed-use building needs to include the following: Flexibility: The documents have to have an element of flexibility to meet the unique demands of mixed use real estate. The reciprocal easement agreement (REA) has to be prepared by an attorney keeping the legal challenges in mind. Complexity: Depending on the complexity of the project, the construction documentation for each part of the building project will have to be prepared and drafted individually. These designs will then be converted to technical drawings for the actual construction to begin. Facilities: The basic facilities associated with residential and commercial buildings are intermingled in a mixed-use building. The greatest challenge in designing a mixed-use building is parking; retail may demand a high number of parking slots. However, residential and office parking can be used interchangeably. Other challenges may include facilities such as elevators. Do the residents share the same elevators as the retail and office, or should the office workers and residents each enjoy their privacy? Design: The design of a mixed-use building poses multiple challenges. Some of the more obvious areas are: Ventilation Lighting – eg., should there be a sun roof? Elevators – eg., common or separate? Trash disposal Electrical needs may vary for residential and commercial uses Noise levels pertaining to commercial activity after decent hours Shafts: When the layout varies between floors, it is difficult to plan shafts and ducts. You should ask yourself questions such as: Should the entrance to the building be common for the residents and the visitors? Will visitors to commercial spaces also have access to residential common areas? Access Control: This is required to make sure that hotel guests, business people, residents and shoppers have access only to their private areas and the common areas. Transportation plays a major role in ensuring this. Construction Documents for Mixed-Use Buildings A mixed-use building needs more documentation than regular commercial or residential buildings.  Each aspect of the building has to be designed to suit the purpose for which it is intended. For example, the HVAC needs for a residential area is different from that for a commercial space. The building requires a team that has worked on different types of designs, including commercial, residential and office complexes. Creating technical drawings for a mixed-use building requires the help of experienced designers. The work doesn’t end with creating a set of drawings. The drafter has to be available to give clarifications and make changes while the construction project is underway.  Conclusion The benefits of mixed use buildings can include increased economic vitality, lower costs of infrastructure, and healthier, walkable communities.  If you are planning to develop a mixed use building or development, you will need accurate construction documentation services. BluEntCAD provides end-to-end solutions for your construction documents needs. We serve homebuilders, real estate developers, large architectural and engineering companies, custom home designers, and new home designers.  Ready to make your mixed use development or building project a success with ? Contact us now!,