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Toeing the Line: Codes

Erick Mikiten, AIA, LEED-AP

It happened again. I recently got an email in which the sender wrote “tow the line.” Then, minutes later, someone asked me why the code has maximum toe clearance dimensions. Let’s clear up both toe problems once and for all.

First and more importantly (bad grammar is so irksome), it’s “toe the line.” Don’t confuse it with nautical tow lines…it’s about feet. The phrase originated with soldiers lining up in the military or runners in track and field events, where officials would call out “toe the line!” to get the runners ready. Either way, it’s the digits of the feet lined up in a row like this:

Although I’m glad to talk about this little phraseological pet peeve of mine, not many people ask me about it, but many DO ask me about the other toe line: the area under a sink or other element that provides space for a wheelchair rider’s toes and foot rests. Here’s the diagram from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California Building Code (CBC):

And what confuses many people is that the toe clearance is 6” max. People ask, “why not give more space for people’s toes?” That’s fine, I say. Toes deserve all the space we can give them. But despite Figure 11B-306.2 (above) looking like a counter or implying a lavatory, the code is referring here to maneuvering space. It’s telling you the depth of toe-level space you can include in the 60-inch “circular space” as defined in 11B-304.3.1. (By the way, this is what most people just call turning space…or very inaccurately call “the 60 inch turning radius.” Another pet peeve of mine…that would be a 120 inch diameter!)

Here’s a diagram that’s more helpful for thinking about the turning space. Imagine this pile of forms sliding in and out of a restroom, kitchen, work areas, etc. That’s where the 9 inch maximum toe space depth (and the corresponding 27” maximum knee space depth) should be applied.

This is how the code describes this in 11B-306.2.4 (but since there are no accompanying figures, it’s usually overlooked): “Space extending greater than 6 inches (152 mm) beyond the available knee clearance at 9 inches (229 mm) above the finish floor or ground shall not be considered toe clearance.”

Bonus Tip: A lavatory is not a sink.

A related confusion is that the CBC differs from the ADA in sinks. We have these two definitions (Chapter 2) in California:

LAVATORY. A fixed bowl or basin with running water and drainpipe, as in a toilet or bathing facility, for washing or bathing purposes. (As differentiated from the definition of “Sink”.)

SINK. A fixed bowl or basin with running water and drainpipe, as in a kitchen or laundry, for washing dishes, clothing, etc. (As differentiated from the definition of “Lavatory”.)

So whereas kitchen sinks and work counters need to have the clearances shown above, a bathroom lavatory in California needs a thinner front edge, to allow for more ability to get in nice and close. To remember this, picture someone in a wheelchair washing their face in the bathroom – they need to get in closer than when they’re reaching out and washing dishes in a kitchen sink.

Here’s the figure showing the lavatory requirement in 11B-306.3:The requirement is for 29 inches clear at the front of the lavatory. Since the maximum top-of-lavatory dimension is 34 inches, this results in a sink that’s at most five inches high at the front. This is a very difficult requirement to meet with a wall-hung sink; probably 95% of the ones on the market that say they are “ADA Compliant” have a front edge that’s over five inches tall. So beware those little wheelchair symbols on cut sheets! They often don’t work in the Golden State!

Duravit, Wet Style, and Barclay have California-complying sinks, and with great contemporary designs to boot (including some by Philippe Starck), and many have drains in the very rear, which is a plus for added knee space:

It’s tempting to just do a countertop with a shallow bowl in it to meet the depth requirement. Resist this, because the countertop inevitably winds up splashed and perennially wet. Not only does this look messy, but it’s a nightmare for the sleeves of people using wheelchairs, shorter people and kids. But if you must, set your countertop below 34 inches so that if the undermount sinks you specified winds up being value engineered out during construction and replaced with self-rimming ones, you don’t wind up out of compliance…the required 34” maximum measurement is to the sink rim, not the countertop.

As I always say, we should take any opportunity to provide MORE space than the code minimums require. If you can provide more knee space, then someone in an electric wheelchair with a joystick out front, or someone in a high-seated scooter who pulls up sideways and needs more knee space when they turn their seat 90 degrees is going to thank you. Who knows – that might just be you or a family member one day. So let’s make better, more flexible architecture…and not just toe the line.

Randy Agno: Allied Member Profile

Randy Agno, Allied Member

If you are an architect, designer, engineer, specification writer, general contractor, or window and door installer, I speak your language.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering and a MBA.

As a long-time architectural consultant in the building industry, I have worked for many strong companies: Andersen Windows, Kelly-Moore Paint Company, Masco Corp (Behr Paint). I have also worked for DuPont as a building science specialist.

I am a published author and have written many industry white papers, articles, as well as two books.

Additionally, I am a licensed contractor in California and have been established since 2003. I was even fortunate enough to work as a contractor for ABC Network’s “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” on the Cadigan-Scott Family Residence in Livermore.

I can’t wait to get to know you and your business and I am excited to find out how I, and All Weather, can help contribute to your ongoing success!

About All Weather:

For almost 50 years All Weather has hand-crafted exceptional custom aluminum windows and doors. Utilizing the highest quality materials and applying the superior workmanship of true artisans, we have breathed life into thousands of building projects all along the west coast and beyond.

Over the decades, All Weather’s ability to provide creative solutions to challenging projects has been the company’s cornerstone and is what continues to set All Weather apart from our competitors. In fact, that is our primary purpose: to offer custom products for our clientele, not to compete with mass quantity producers.

We believe in service beyond expectation and achieve this by listening to you. We want you to understand that whether this is your first project with us, or your hundredth, our pledge remains the same: we are here to support you by providing expert product knowledge, a world-class customer service experience and on-time delivery of the best aluminum windows and doors on the planet.

Now under third generation family ownership, our desire to foster deep and meaningful relationships in order to drive All Weather’s growth and prosperity remains unwavering. We value you, your business and the opportunity to make each of your projects more amazing with our stunning windows and doors.

 

Welcome to All Weather.

Member News – September 2018

Member Firms Featured

ODS Architecture was featured on the cover of RD – Residential Design magazine.  Click here to read the issue: residentialdesignmagazine.com/rd-digital-edition/

Member Promotions

Robert Williamson, AIA has accepted a new role at HOK as Principal, Western Regional Leader of Science and Tech.

New Member Firm Location

Design Draw Build has moved into a new office at 2866 Webster Street, Oakland. You’re invited to celebrate the office opening with live music and food/drinks with friends, clients and co-workers on Friday, October 5 at 5:30pm. RSVP to info@designdrawbuild.com.

Mariani Lodge, Rebuilding in Yolo County: Project Profile

The Mariani’s Napa County home was one of thousands destroyed in the early morning hours of Oct 9, 2017, as the Atlas Fire consumed +50,000 acres. Once the fires were contained, they looked at the charred remains of their family home and decided to rebuild on a farm they owned in Yolo County in order to be closer to family.

They worked with Brendan Kelly, Amie MacPhee, and Kerry Morgan of Cultivate Studio, an Architecture and Landscape practice with offices in San Francisco and Green Valley, to come up with a site plan and the first structures. Together, they transformed this site bordering Putah Creek into a welcoming and functional place for multiple generations. The Lodge structure is meant to recall the simple agricultural form of a barn that allows for large scale entertainment while providing a lot of shade and cross ventilation during hot summer days. The roof is standing seam metal, the siding is board and batten, and the floors are bluestone.

In rethinking their lives after such a devastating loss, the Mariani’s went back to “first principles” instead of just trying to rebuild a home that was meant for an earlier time in their lives. Since they now are able to spend more time traveling the most important part of rebuilding was to provide a place in which to to return that could fit their large family and recall their long tradition of living in and around working agricultural landscapes. With bedrooms and other private spaces being handled elsewhere on the property, this building is already hosting bbqs and relaxing pool parties. Scheduled to be complete in late September, it’s already starting to feel like home.

Construction started in February with Tim Senior General Contractors and Mozzafari Engineering handling the Structural design. Cultivate LLC performed all the site planning, architecture, and landscape duties.

Mariani Lodge – South Elevation (Brendan Kelly, AIA)

Swatt|Miers Architects: Firm Profile

Swatt|Miers Architects was formed as a merger of two long-established San Francisco Bay Area firms, Swatt Architects and George Miers and Associates, with the goal of creating a practice that consistently creates beautiful, sustainable and user-responsive buildings. We offer our clients the highest level of design, management and principle-oriented services.

The firm is directed by Robert Swatt, FAIA and George Miers, AIA and led by six principals.  Robert Swatt established Swatt Architects in 1975 after working in the offices of renowned architects Cesar Pelli and Howard A. Friedman.  George Miers founded George Miers & Associates in 1982 after serving as Studio Director at Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz and Project Designers at Skidmore Ownings and Merrill.  Our twenty-five person firm is based in Emeryville.

One of the basic goals of our firm has been to maintain a varied design practice marked by a diversity of building types and sizes for private, civic, institutional and corporate clients on commercial, residential, and educational projects throughout the world. The firm’s dedication to design excellence, combined with the highest level of service to clients, has contributed to the recognition Swatt | Miers Architects has received, with over 80 local, regional and national design awards.

We enjoy transforming older buildings and spaces and creating ‘new life.’ We have created success in this endeavor on small additions to large-scale corporate headquarters, religious buildings, institutional buildings and multi-family and single family homes.  We are recognized for our contemporary, warm and inviting modernism. We’re also know for sensitive planning in which buildings are knitted into the landscape and creating site environments which seem inevitable as solutions to their surroundings.

One of the firm’s most notable and widely published projects are the teahouses completed in 2009.  The client’s desire was to create a place where he could simply retreat into nature.  The sculptural interpretation of a simple tree house has succeeded in a magnificent tribute to the beauty of nature. Viewed from afar or viewed from within, the teahouses appear at one with their sites inextricably connected to the native California landscape.

 Tea Houses. Photograph by Tim Griffith

On a larger scale, the Black Mountain Project in the San Carlos Hills currently in the “Planning Approval” phase consists of sixty-eight modular units assembled on site constructed foundations.  While modular designs are generally limited to flat sites, an overriding design has been to carefully integrate the buildings with the site’s unique physical characteristics, including the steep topography, trees, views to the Bay and in relationship with the surrounding neighborhoods and homes.

Black Mountain Project. Rendering by Markus Lui

Recently completed, the Amara Residence is a new family home in Atherton. This home is located on a flat corner lot with beautiful mature trees along the perimeter of the property, affording privacy on all sides.  The main house plan forms an ‘L’ shape with the public spaces on the ground floor opening up to expansive landscaped areas and a swimming pool.  Deep cantilevers with trellises provide sun protection for the interiors and create beautiful dappled light patterns for the outdoor spaces.

Amara House. Photography by Russell Abraham

Now is the Time for 100% Renewable Energy: Green

Cate Leger, Principal, Leger Wanaselja Architecture

It has never been easier or more important to shift to 100% renewable electricity to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

For a limited time, cities around the bay are again offering the SunShares program, providing the best deals in solar PV installations and electric cars and free guidance on how to shift to 100% renewable electricity.  By aggregating purchases, Sunshares is able to reduce solar installation costs by as much as 15%.  The program also offers pre-vetted solar installers and discounts on select zero-emission vehicles.  There are several online and in-person events to learn about options and ask questions.

Even with the current national political climate, the economics just keep getting better for 100% renewable electricity.  Costs for solar installation, batteries and electric cars keep dropping and federal tax credits and state and federal rebates continue to be offered.   Most homeowners will find it economically advantageous to install solar.  This is especially true if coupled with shifts from gas to electric demands, for example, swapping out gas water heaters, dryers, and cars for electric ones.  Coupled with solar PV installation, financial incentives are also possible for electric panel upgrades and EV chargers.  Registration is open now through November 15.

For renters and those not able to take advantage of the solar PV program, it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well by simply opting to purchase 100% renewable electricity from local energy providers. SunShares also offers guidance on 100% renewable electricity purchase options.

To sign up or for more information visit bayareasunshares.org.

August 2018 ArchNews

The August ArchNews is available now. Click on the links below to read each article.

Firm Profile: Studio Bergtraun, AIA, Architects
Project Profile: Capitol Villas By BKBC Architects
Green: March for the Climate – Meeting the Paris Agreement Climate Goals
Upcoming Changes to the ARE
Member News – August 2018

 

Studio Bergtraun, AIA, Architects: Firm Profile

Established in 1988, Studio Bergtraun, AIA, Architects, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this summer!

Palo Alto Lutheran Church Narthex addition to 1960’s Mid-Century Modern church creating a community “glue” to encourage its members to socialize and draw closer to each other in the new space.

Based in Emeryville, this six person office has designed over the years an array of projects varying from single family residences and multi-family residential complexes to neighborhood commercial, religious architecture, an urban farm and  a few Boy Scout Camps.
Alex Bergtraun, principal of the firm, a graduate of Cal Poly, SLO, completed his 5th year of the school with a Rotarian Scholarship in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Upon his return to the US, Alex worked the next four years for noted Peninsula architect Goody Steinberg, FAIA.  This important phase of Alex’s career transitioned when he then returned to Europe and worked for the next three years in an architectural studio in Milan, Italy.  This extensive work experience and study in Italy and Denmark along with travel through Asia and Europe have provided a rich design background for the studio.

The studio is located in a vibrant hub of activity in Emeryville  which has helped to continue the studio’s goal of inclusively working together with local artists and artisans on all projects integrally as they are designed. After having rented the Doyle Street studio space for over two decades, the firm bought the building complex and has incorporated a gallery space as part of its overall studio so that it can further promote the arts showing art by the firm’s members as well as hosting gallery openings of local community artists and artisans.

Each environment designed by the studio, residential, commercial and institutional, is responsive to the client’s program and budget, respectful of the surrounds in which they are sited, and attentive to the creative, functional and eco-friendly use of materials.  Every project attempts to create in various California climate zones, from Sea Ranch and Eureka to Tahoe  and both sides of the Bay Area, indoor-outdoor flow as an integral part of each design.

The firm has also done a series of pro bono projects giving back to the community including:

-Design and construction of the Solano Avenue Parklet

-Design and construction of a 60 foot long grape arbor and seating area at Urban Adamah farm in West Berkeley, where the firm is also designing all of the other buildings for this Urban Farming community campus, including a communal kitchen and an EcoLodge.

-Design workshops for the local Boy Scout Council High Sierra and local camps

It is the studio’s belief that architecture can be a beautiful framework enhancing the lives of those who live and work within and around it and the studio is committed to being a part of the rich exploration of Bay Area architecture.

Alpine Meadows new home perched on 23 degree granite ledge above community creek using materials reminiscent of old nearby Truckee train barns.

Upcoming Changes to the ARE

Upcoming ARE Fee Increase

As a reminder, the cost of each ARE 5.0 division will increase from $210 to $235 on October 1, 2018. The total cost of the six-division exam ($1,410) will still be less than ARE 4.0’s total fees.

Candidates can purchase seat credits for an ARE 5.0 division at the $210 price until September 30. Purchase your seat credits in advance of the fee increase if you plan to test within the next twelve months and save $25 per division.

New AIA Contract Documents & Building Codes

Also starting on October 1, ARE 5.0 will reference the newest version of the AIA Contract Documents and the 2015 International Building Code—which you can download for free online.

The ARE will continue to address the standard agreements previously identified. Candidates should expect to see additional questions related to the following contracts:

  • A133-2009: Owner-Construction Manager as Constructor Agreement
  • A195-2008: Owner-Contractor Agreement for Integrated Project Delivery
  • A295-2008: General Conditions of the Contract for Integrated Project Delivery
  • B195-2008: Owner-Architect Agreement for Integrated Project Delivery

Member News – August 2018

Firms Featured

Lowney Architecture featured in East Bay Express for their work on a new structure that will host a restaurant in Oakland.
Click here to read the full story.

Rendering provided by Studio KDA.

Awards and Recognition

Napa Design Partners Wins 2018 Public Works Project of the Year Award.
Click here to read the press release.

Photo by Alten Construction.