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Building Code Issues: All Gender Restrooms

Kerwin Lee, AIA CASp

Kerwin Says: (with the assistance of Steve Winkle, FAIA)

I recall when I first got started in architecture, my first task was to design restrooms for a project. Perhaps your start was the same. One quickly learns what the criteria is; providing restrooms are always essential to any project.

Something new has been added to this design, at least when it comes to signage and perhaps will become a whole new way of designing restrooms. Assembly Bill 1732, passed by the assembly and signed into law by the Governor on September 29, 2016 became effective on March 1, 2017. This law requires all “single user toilet facilities” to have special signage.

The problem is there is nothing in the code, including the current CBC 2016, that addresses this to meet the law’s requirement. The only guidance at this time is found in a bulletin issued by DSA on January 19, 2017. This bulletin, BU 17-01 is available through the following link:

The bulletin, which is supplemental information to any building standards or code, only applies to DSA projects: public schools, state buildings and projects under DSA’s authority. So what are we designing to? AB 1732 is law and even without specifics on how to comply, we have an obligation to. We can use DSA’s bulletin as a guideline. The best way is to talk with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for your project on when and how to comply. The bill lacks specifics or at least clarity as to when it is required. Does this apply to all restrooms that exist or new and/or remodeled only?

According to DSA’s bulletin, they recommend that the symbol on the door be a triangle within a circle. They say that no pictogram is required and no other signage (text) is required. If you or the owner chooses to have a text sign, it should say one of the following: “ALL-GENDER RESTROOM,” “RESTROOM,” or “UNI-SEX RESTROOM,” The text with braille needs to comply with the code for all accessible signs. It is best to stay away from any other text or having any pictogram associated with the symbol or text sign. One can look through the debate online on this subject and some of the suggested signs/symbols to be used-many are politically incorrect.

Here is one of the problems you will be facing for complying with the code, “Fixture Count.” If all single user facilities are now all gender, how is it counted in tabulating the number of required fixtures for a facility or building for compliance with Chapter 29?

The biggest question is compliance with Section 2902.2: separate sex facilities. Separate sex facilities are a fairly recent standard, introduced in the mid-19th century. It was associated with having women in the work force in factories, but that is another subject of discussion. Add to this the complexity of urinals and how they are counted.

There may be an opportunity for some creative and new approaches to design for restrooms. For an A-2/restaurant with ten or less occupants, a single unisex facility would comply. For an occupant load of 25 or less, two fixtures or two single-user facilities are required. For an occupant load of 49 or less, three fixtures are required. A possible solution could be as diagramed on the right with two accessible single-user facilities and a single water closet in the third. The two lavatories would comply with the minimum required number. This design would require an Alternative Materials and Method Request (AMMR) because it does not strictly comply with the code, but may comply with the intent. Some social norms may also be changed here.

The building standards or codes do need to be adjusted to address all of these social changes. In the mean time, we all need to proceed with caution on how we address this. We also need to recognize that because there are no statewide code standards this will be in the hands of local jurisdictions and there may be different requirements/interpretations in different jurisdictions.

Drawings courtesy of the City of Oakland Building Department.

Project Profile: Saikley Architects

Hilltop Contemporary – Richmond, California

Saikley Architects designed this new, ground-up home in the Richmond Hills for a young couple developing the site for a first home. The husband is a landscape designer/builder by trade and used the project to learn how to build a house. The wife did the project management.

Saikley Architects worked closely with the owners to create the design they wanted while allowing them to build their skills. The project was complex due to a steep slope, a small, irregularly shaped lot, civil engineering constraints and multiple zoning issues. Despite the beautiful site with its panoramic views of the Bay, the lot had been left undeveloped because of these complexities. Saikley Architects handled the negotiations for county approvals and worked with the owner/builder to ultimately create a 2,300 square foot, three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home that maximizes the site’s potential.

The owners asked for a modern house that felt warm and whimsical. They wanted a design with useful spaces and to be able to see the views throughout the house. The living space is an open plan, spilling out onto a large deck at one end and a yard at the other. An upper deck off the bedroom extends the living space. Windows in every interior space frame Bay views.

Saikley Architects provided building design details which the owner used in many unique interior and furniture design and site design details. The landscape design by the owner compliments and enhances the building and its relationship to the site.

My Architecture: COTE Top Ten

A Monthly Program

Wednesday, April 5, 2017    DATE CHANGE!
Early registration (by April 3): Free AIA members and employees of chapter member firms / $10 Guests. Late registration: $10 Members / $15 Guests. At the Door: $20 all.
Click here to register.

1.5 CES LUs

The AIA COTE (Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Awards is the industry’s best-known awards program for sustainable design excellence. Each year, only ten innovative projects earn the prize for setting the standard in design and sustainability.

The Exploratorium (EHDD), Jacobs Hall at UC Berkeley (LMS) and West Berkeley Library (HED) are all 2016 COTE Top Ten winners, and we’ve asked the CLIENTS to come talk about these award-winning projects from their point of view. Join us for our monthly program as a selection of owners and clients from these projects present and discuss how the architecture and design of the project affects, supports, advances and represents their work and the mission of their program. A wine and cheese reception follows the panel presentation.


The Exploratorium: Located in San Francisco, the Exploratorium is a public learning laboratory exploring the world through science, art and human perception. The museum creates tools and experiences that help attendees become an active explorer: hundreds of explore-for-yourself exhibits, a website with over 50,000 pages of content, film screenings, evening art and science events for adults, and much more.

  • Heidi Dolamore, Director of Library Services, City of Berkeley, on the West Berkeley Library and Elliot Warren, Deputy Director, City of Berkeley, on the West Berkeley Library

West Berkeley Library: Part of the Berkeley Public Library System, the West Berkeley Library is the first Net Zero Public Library in California. In 2016 they became a recipient of the prestigious COTE Top Ten Award.

  • Emily Rice, Director of Programs & Operations, Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation is UC Berkeley’s interdisciplinary hub for learning and making at the intersection of design and technology. From their home in Berkeley’s College of Engineering, they extend broadly across campus, serving as a welcoming hub: engineers, artists, and makers of all kinds can gather and collaborate.

Re-RUD: Re-Inventing Our Regional & Urban Design Committee

By: Matthew Taecker, AIA, AICP

On March 22, rudder yourself to RUD – AIA East Bay’s “Regional & Urban Design Committee” – to help re-envision RUD’s purpose and potential.

The Regional & Urban Design Committee has been an important component of AIA East Bay over decades. The Committee’s mission is to promote “excellence in urban design, land use/transportation integration, public policy, and implementation” in urban and suburban environments.

In recent years, the RUD program has focused on educational programs. Program topics have included: considering how a building can better relate to its context and understanding financial obstacles to infill development.

On March 22, you are invited to help develop topics for future programs and presentations. To remain relevant, fresh perspectives are needed. For example, at AIA East Bay’s 2017 Member Mixer, participants expressed interest in hearing about:
• master plans for new sports facilities
• the “new town” planned at Concord Naval Station, and
• higher-density housing types that blend with single-family areas – the “missing middle.”

Moving forward, we encourage members to participate directly in framing topics and organizing a related presentation or symposium.

In the past, group discussion have engaged issues and contributed design-based perspectives to important debates. For example, during Oakland’s Latham Square design process in late 2013, we described design strategies for pedestrian-friendly places.

At the Mixer, many members said that they want to be more engaged with local issues. Ideas included:
• assessing specific places for what works well and what needs work
• identifying obstacles to infill development, and
• addressing housing affordability through building design.

Simply put, Re-RUD presents exciting possibilities, but we have to be better organized. I hope you’ll become part of this process.

Matthew Taecker is the Chair of the RUD Committee, and has been a leader in urban placemaking and land use / transportation integration.

Emerging Professionals Firm Tour: Shah Kawasaki Architects

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Location: 570 10th St., #201, Oakland

Open to all, space is limited.
RSVP required to

Come join the AIA East Bay Emerging Professionals Committee for our first Firm Tour of the year at Shah Kawasaki Architects. There will be a brief presentation by SKA, a tour of their office space and then ample time for networking. Light refreshments will be provided. A social hangout will follow at a local bar for those who are interested.

About the Firm:

Shah Kawasaki Architects (SKA) is a public sector practice specializing in managing complex projects within limited budgets. Since its inception in 1999, the Oakland-based firm has utilized a hands-on, collaborative and tailored approach in order to deliver a full range of architectural, planning, and interior design services. Throughout its 18 years in business, SKA’s primary focus and source of pride resides in the design, renovation, and restoration of civic and commercial facilities. Led by Alan Kawasaki, AIA and Philip Luo, AIA with a staff of 13 personnel, Shah Kawasaki Architects is passionate about providing quality services that enhance the user experience and thoroughly and thoughtfully satisfy the needs and wishes of the client.

3D Modeling and Renderworks

A Northern California Vectorworks Users Group

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Free and open to all. No RSVPs needed.

1.5 CES LUs

We will watch a couple of short modeling videos showing the use of the many modeling tools Vectorworks has to offer.  Also, Vectorworks 2017 now includes Renderworks for all users, and for those who are unfamiliar with how to use it to illustrate your design intent, we will help you understand its controls to light and to show materials on your 3D models.

About the Presenters:

Peter Thayer, architect, at OAG Architects Inc., has been using Vectorworks/MiniCAD software for over 15 years, providing residential and architectural services with his firm in Benicia.

Paul Majka, Principal at Paul Majka Architect Inc., is a seasoned professional in architecture with about ten years of experience with Vectorworks, and is currently running an architectural practice in San Francisco.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this program attendees will…

  1. Learn to use some of the many 3D modeling tools available in Vectorworks
  2. Learn how to light your 3D design models from a variety of sources.
  3. See where you can find textures for use on the Internet and how to create your own.
  4. Learn how to apply materials and adjust shaders for reflectance, transparency etc.

ARE Trivia Night

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Location: Lowney Architecture, 360 17th St, Oakland, CA 94612
Cost: $5 AIA members and employees of Chapter Member Firms. $10 Non-members.
Includes dinner. Individual participants or teams up to five may register here.

Studying for PPP, CD&S and/or SP&D? Test your knowledge at Lowney Architecture March 15th for a chance to win lifelong glory and have some fun!

The trivia deck will include all new questions, so past participants can enjoy the night. Already licensed? Join the fun and see just how much of a trivia-head you are!

Questions? Contact Sidney Sweeney.

ADA/MCE Day: March 31, 2017

MCE/ADA Day: Accessibility for California Architects

Friday, March 31, 2017
Cost: $110 AIA Members / $150 non-members.
Includes coffee and lunch.

Click here to register. 


This ADA/accessibility presentation on public accommodations pertinent to California architects provides the full five hours required by the CAB for licensure renewal. This month’s topic is barrier-free multifamily/residential design.

Presenters: Erick Mikiten, AIA (Mikiten Architecture), Marcial Chao, AIA (Pyatok) and Mark Schneider, AIA, CASp (Endelman & Associates).

Learning Objectives: Forthcoming

Design Detail Disasters

a CSI East Bay & RCI Northern CA event. Co-sponsored by AIA East Bay

Friday, April 21, 2017
8:30am-4pm  doors open at 8am
1405 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612

Registration Fee (all proceeds to benefit CSI and RCI):
Early Bird Sign Up: $175
after 3/15/17: $200
after 4/15/17: $225
Students: $30

Complimentary breakfast, box lunch and afternoon snacks will be provided

Click here to register.


Morning Schedule and Program
8:00AM- 8:30AM Registration

8:30AM- 9:30AM Ann Coleman – Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
Small Design Error Causes Big Disaster
Wood-framed medical office building case study of six-year old building with chronic water infiltration since construction. The roofing was identified as the original source and replaced. Six years of investigations and remedial repairs for additional leakage missed the small, but easily overlooked, design error that led to widespread wood deterioration. With the involvement of a proactive and highly motivated owner, the building was repaired and involved parties settled their differences within a year.

9:30AM- 10:30AM Paul Goetz – Aquatech Consultancy, Inc.
Moisture Management: It Should Be So Simple, So Why Is It So Hard?
Some construction mistakes take years to manifest, while others become apparent in a very short time. Water intrusion, in the form of liquid or vapor, is responsible for close to 70% of construction defect litigation. Why is it so hard to do it right the first time? Is there a common thread to the leak issue? Are the errors committed by the usual suspects? Who are the usual suspects? Paul will discuss three projects that soon after completion exhibited moisture problems. Two of the projects, a multi-unit vacation resort and a single family residence, ended up in litigation. The moisture problems in the third example, an apartment building, was addressed by the builder.

10:30AM- 10:55AM Morning Break

10:55AM- 11:55AM Gerson Bers – ABBAE
Public Enemy #1: Pre-formed Metal Form Edges For Elevated Wood Framed Pedestrian
For nearly 30 years, ABBAE’s forensic and design teams have identified and corrected damage to wood framed pedestrian deck structures caused by the use of the prefabricated concrete edge form generically known as “Con-Form”. “Con-Form” edges are a convenience for placing concrete at the edge of an elevated deck, but create havoc with waterproofing assemblies. This presentation describes what a “Con-Form” edge is, how it is typically used, damages resulting from improper waterproofing conditions created by “Con-Form” edges, and several approaches to correctly detailing exposed wood frame pedestrian deck edges.

Afternoon Schedule and Program
11:55AM- 12:35PM Lunch Break

12:35PM- 1:35PM Annie K. Lo, AIA, LEED AP – Walker Restoration Consultants
Plaza Appearance and Membrane Adherence
Annie Lo will provide an overview of a plaza project for a major housing complex in San Francisco, which is going through a second waterproofing remediation. Design concepts related to the landscaping layout, waterproofing system, expansion joints, and overall phasing from the original construction and first remediation will be evaluated and discussed with the audience. Walker’s repair concept and details will be shared for the current remediation, as well as approximations of construction costs that could have been avoided had the original design and previous remediation been approached differently. Challenges presented by the existing plaza deck configuration and unforeseen conditions during the construction will also be assessed as factors that impacted the design details and the remediation budget.

1:35PM- 2:35PM Joe Pinon – RDH Building Science, Inc.
Designing for Rain Exposure: Example Lab “Tested” Systems and Details that Failed
A structural engineer would never design a column or beam without first understanding the actual loads that the member will experience in-service. Unfortunately, building enclosures (e.g., facades, roofs, below-grade waterproofing, and windows) are too often selected from a catalog, website, or based on an ASTM test, without first understanding the actual loads the system or detail will experience in-service, or the differences between its in-service exposure and how it was tested. In this presentation, Joe Piñon will show examples of lab “tested” systems and details that failed in-service due to not accounting for the actual rain exposure and load in the design. Example failures include a rainscreen façade installed on an inclined wall, Code approved low-slope vented roofs and cement plaster exterior walls, custom window systems, and flashing details that create weak links in what might otherwise be a design that works.

2:35PM- 3:00PM Afternoon Break
3:00PM- 4:00PM Jeff Chen, AIA, LEED AP, Phillip Kelleher, AIA, Erica Reynolds –
Avoiding Weak Design: The Architect’s Responsibility
In 1987, Rosenberg McGinnis was retained by Milton Meyer & Co. to investigate on-going leaks at Five Fremont Center. The leaks had been investigated and repaired a number of times since 1983, less than a year after construction began. The report prepared by Rosenberg McGinnis documents their independent observations and recommendations. What started out as a simple observation of water leakage turned into a litigation case spanning a length of ten years. This presentation will uncover the architect’s responsibility to avoid weak points in the original design in order to elude unneeded headache after the project is over.

About the Presenters:

Ann Coleman, Associate Principal and Unit Manager, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
Ann Coleman is a building enclosure consultant for new and distressed enclosure systems—for laboratories, hospital buildings, museums, and office buildings. Ms. Coleman applies her project experience and professional interests to technical presentations and publications including topics related to common causes of construction defects, building reuse, historic and new cast stone, concrete floor slab moisture issues, fenestration, waterproofing, and construction detailing.

Paul Goetz, President, Aquatech Consultancy, Inc.
Paul Goetz has over 35 years of practical and diverse waterproofing and construction experience in the areas of project management, contracting, specification preparation, estimating, and forensic consulting. For ten years, he was the president of one of the Bay Area’s largest waterproofing, industrial seamless-flooring, and specialty roofing companies. He is recognized by his peers, developers, and architects as an authority on waterproof design, material selection and detailing.

Gerson Bers, Principal, ABBAE
Gerson Bers is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park where he received a B.S. in Physical Sciences. Mr. Bers is a LEED Accredited Professional and is a DOE certified WUFI ORNL instructor in hydrothermal analyses. He has more than 30 years of building technology consulting experience with special emphasis on design of new and remedial building enclosure system design as well as investigating and resolving moisture infiltration issues for occupied facilities. Mr. Bers is responsible for planning and executing forensic investigations and assists in preparing and reviewing findings reports and remedial repair construction documents and cost estimates. Mr. Bers has provided both expert and percipient testimony for construction defect litigation from both plaintiff and defendant perspectives.

Annie K. Lo, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Restoration, Walker Restoration Consultants
Annie Lo is the Director of Restoration in San Francisco and Northern California for Walker Restoration Consultants (WRC). Together with Walker Parking Consultants founded in 1965, WRC has 18 offices and provides building envelope, waterproofing, restoration, and structural engineering services throughout the U.S. As a licensed Architect with a degree from Columbia University and a background in historic preservation, Annie has presented technical topics at AIA, RCI, APT, ABAA, and CPF.

Joe Pinon, Principal and Senior Building Science Specialist, RDH Building Science, Inc.
Joe Piñon, M.S., P.E. (CA) has extensive experience in design, analysis, rehabilitation, commissioning, architectural plan peer review, and construction contract administration for a variety of building enclosure systems and components used in commercial, residential and institutional construction across the United States. Joe has broad knowledge of industry building science best practices, as well as national, state, and local building codes on the performance standards relating to energy efficiency, and moisture control. Joe is an engaging and skilled speaker, having presented many of his published works at conferences and client training sessions throughout the country.

Erica Reynolds, PE – McGinnis/Chen
Erica Reynolds, P.E. has 5 years of experience in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, Construction Administration and Project Management on a variety of structures. Along with technical experience, Erica has an extensive educational background with Masters and Bachelor’s degrees in Civil Engineering with a specialization in Structural Engineering. She is experienced in the production of Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, product and code research, and Construction Administration. She conducts field surveying and inspections.

Phillip Kelleher, AIA– McGinnis/Chen
Phillip Kelleher has 10 years of architectural industry experience including 7 years of building envelope experience with MCA. He has extensive knowledge in all aspects of job production including architectural design, waterproofing design, construction documents, and construction contract administration. He conducts and manages field investigation, testing and inspections. He is currently managing our services for new construction projects in the SF Mission Bay, multi-building high-tech campuses in the Silicon Valley and various urban in-fill residential high-rises in the SOMA district. Along with technical experience, Phillip has an extensive educational background with Master Degrees in both architecture and structural engineering.

Jeff Chen, AIA, LEED AP– McGinnis/Chen
With experience accumulated over 34 years of professional practice specific to a wide range of exterior building envelope projects with MCA, Jeff Chen brings a high level of technical and design expertise. He is a recognized specialist consultant in building envelope design and peer review for new construction, and an experienced architect in problem solving and remedial design for existing problematic buildings. Jeff Chen’s expertise in solving waterproofing problems in the building envelope includes below-grade waterproofing, plaza and deck waterproofing, windows and skylight assemblies, curtain walls, EIFS, masonry wall, rain screen assemblies, and occupied and unoccupied roofs.

Learning Objectives:


The Concept of Co-Housing for Aging-In-Place

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Free and open to all.
Location: Swan’s Market Co-Housing Community Room (2nd Floor), 930 Clay St., Oakland


North America’s 50th Co-housing Community is preserved in the 1917 Swan’s Market building in the historic Old Oakland neighborhood of Downtown Oakland. Swan’s Market is a mixed-use building comprised of restaurants, retail, offices, services, housing, and co-housing. Come see and hear about the concept of co-housing and its applicability as a model for aging-in-place.

We will be graciously hosted by residents Michael Coleman, AIA and Sandra Coleman, Hon. AIAEB, and guest speaker, Raines Cohen who is the Northern California Regional Organizer with Co-housing California.


Our March meeting will be a special meeting location and field tour. Enter Swan’s Market Co-Housing at: 930 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94607 or 538 9th St. Oakland

Enter through courtyard at either address on Clay Street or 9th Street and proceed to co-housing community room, 2nd level. See red star on map for entry point. We hope to have people to direct you once in the courtyard. The location is easily accessible from the 12th St. downtown Oakland BART station.