It’s no secret that core growth in dense urban areas is on the rise. From cities like Austin, Nashville, and Atlanta that are experiencing massive spikes in development through revitalization, to more established cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, growth is rampant. While spaces in these areas present many benefits, they can also involve some unique challenges. That’s where we come in. At Henderson Engineers, we can help our clients understand what obstacles they may face when considering dense urban areas for their retail, grocery, restaurant, or workplace location.
Opening a location in a dense urban area generally involves building out a tenant space in a high-rise building or renovation in a highly populated downtown district. And while many issues involved in these types of designs are universal, there are some that are specific to the building type or location. For example, a client looking at a street level retail store in a Chicago high-rise will need to address stack effect, but a new restaurant in downtown San Francisco could face utility availability issues. Understanding these possible issues ahead of time can help protect the both the project’s cost and schedule.
Below & behind
When opening a location in a dense urban area, one of the most important considerations prior to even signing a lease is thinking about the building systems. Understanding not only what will be needed for the new space but also what is already existing in the building can help avoid costly discoveries and/or delays during construction, or worse. When clients come to us in this situation, we typically perform a site assessment that addresses two main questions:
While the owner and architects are thinking of how to layout offices in a space, where to put aisles and tables, or the way shoppers will move through a retail store, the engineer is thinking about the unseen factors that impact a person’s experience in any given environment and what could get in the way of a successful project.
Preparing your project
It’s easy to look at that long list of potential difficulties and decide one of the following:
It’s definitely the second – we promise. At Henderson, we like to say, “Rules, meet imagination.” What that means to us is a little bit of imagination can go a long way when identifying a solution that meets the codes and standards (aka rules) while also meeting the needs of our clients. Designing in dense urban areas can throw some curveballs at a project, but we’ve been working with our clients for years to overcome these challenges to create some amazing spaces from flagship retail to modern workplaces and everything in between.
We recommend bringing your engineer to the table early so that you can be aware of the potential obstacles of your dense urban area. Once we’ve performed a site assessment, we help our client’s review their lease and understand what they should address before they go too far. Our subsidiary, Henderson Building Solutions, can even provide a more robust facility condition assessment to help clients understand what kind of infrastructure investment might be needed if a space is purchased.
The best building systems are the ones no one knows are there. When you enter a space and there is no thought to visibility, temperature, or safety you’ve entered a successful project. With us, it doesn’t matter if you’re opening your doors in rural Nebraska or downtown LA, we’ll be there to help you make informed decisions every step of the way – from selecting the right space for your needs all the way through to the final punch and beyond. If you have questions regarding a potential site or would like to request a site assessment, please contact us here.
Join our email list to get the latest design innovations, technical content, new projects, and research from Henderson’s experts delivered straight to your inbox.