Rooftop Amenities Increase Value—and Compliance Requirements

Rooftop Amenities Increase Value—and Compliance Requirements

By Frank Fortino

Designing rooftop amenities and terraces in a way that allows the building to use the spaces either as amenity spaces or for personal use has become the trend now that commercial buildings have resumed leasing office spaces. All these amenity spaces look beautiful and create a wonderful, relaxing environment high above the canyon of people rushing and running around at ground level.

However, most businesses and owners who rent these spaces have no idea of what’s required to design, build, and maintain them. In our business, design and beauty are very much appreciated, but when it comes to rooftops and terraces, our main concern involves planning proper fire protection and egress.

Compliance Requirements for Rooftops and Terraces

When planning rooftop spaces and terraces, keep in mind the following compliance requirements:

  • The space must have proper egress from the exterior to the exit stairs, as well as egress to the open space
  • The design needs to include handicap access to meet ADA requirements.
  • The spaces must have proper lighting, including emergency lighting if used as public assembly (PA) spaces.
  • Fire safety systems should include fire alarm devices, voice communication, and strobes.

In addition, structural slabs need to be designed for the proper live load. The structural design is extremely important since roofs, setbacks, and terraces are typically not designed to support additional landscaping, planters, seating, furniture, or pavers. As a result, the structural stability of most buildings will need to be reinforced to accommodate these elevated amenities.

Naturally, these oases in the sky are highly prized. At the same time, they bring special considerations for building owners, including the need to maintain these spaces and to check the structural conditions since they apply additional loads to the building.

For assistance with planning such spaces or with bringing existing spaces into compliance, contact Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344.