Egress Diagrams

Tomorrow’s Common Hour pin-up will be an opportunity to learn more about egress diagrams. This is perfect timing after yesterday’s review–an opportunity to do some diagrammatic re-working of your building organization/floor plans. I don’t expect that egress (or your project) will be perfect in these drawings–but it’s really important to go through the process of making them, both as an integrated design exercise and as a representation exercise. It’s inevitable that doing these drawings will raise some questions, which we should discuss now so that we’re not discussing it at your review. You’re never going to get anything “right” on the first try, so get a draft out there so you can learn from it!

Required for tomorrow’s Common Hour pin-up (Berg will be open at 12:30pm):

  • 2D Floor Plan Egress Diagrams @ 1/32″
    • I would rather you put most of your time into this, as opposed to the 3D diagram
    • Ground floor and at least one “typical” upper floor.
    • Show the party wall to the north as poché, draw the sidewalk on all three sides, label streets. Remember, the overall goal of egress is to get people to the public way (AKA off our site), so you need to show where that is.
    • All enclosed rooms (anything with a door) should be shaded GRAY.
      • Walls should still be shown as black lines, with openings for doors.
      • Elevators and other service space should be shaded gray, so they’re not confused with egress.
    • Any space open to below should be shown as WHITE.
    • Circulation floor space should be shaded YELLOW.
      • Make enclosed egress stairs bright yellow so they pop; other circulation spaces (pretty much anything not enclosed by doors) can be a lighter shade of yellow. If you have monumental or communicating stairs (not egress), keep them yellow, but provide a note to clarify that it is not an egress stair.
    • Exit discharge points (where paths of egress leave the building) should be shown as a RED arrow outside the door, pointing in the direction of travel.
  • 3D Egress Diagram
    • Keep these super simple. We’ll get into more detail later.
    • Ghost in the overall building mass (linework without shading is recommended)
    • Show the sidewalks and building to the north
    • Paths of egress should be shown as yellow surfaces
    • Enclosed egress stairs can be shown as simple blocks, shaded yellow.

Mark Cabrinha sent out an email with a lot of great points about this, so I’m going to re-post it here:

  • Path of egress is not a squiggle, line, or doodle.  It is an area.  Represent the total surface area (width x path of travel) of  egress.
  • Egress is not a stair, it is a complete system.  This includes three aspects:
    • Corridor / circulation that leads to the stair (by code, this is referred to as the Exit Access).  How long can this be…refer to Arch 341 Egress Lecture.
    • Rated / Enclosed Stair (by code, this is defined as the Exit.).  How many, what size, how far apart…refer to Arch 341 Egress Lecture.
    • Exit from Stair to Public Right of Way (by code, this is defined as Exit Discharge).  Path of egress does not end where the building ends, consequently your drawings must indicate your site, and how you get from your exit to public right of way.
How might this affect your design development?
  • Consider that to define path of travel, you also have to know how your program is organized.  Circulation is the Yin to your program’s Yang (yes, I just wrote that).  Don’t have your program completely worked out?? GREAT!  Realize that the circulation system is an organizing element in the layout of your program – consider the flow and experience of moving through this circulation system.  It can be experiential, and combine or link to code required egress.
  • What about section??  While circulation and program organization go hand in hand, and we can best describe this through plan, circulation and sectional experience should work together.  Use this spatial experience (section) to help organize your program / circulation.
  • What about form?  Nothing is worse than tacking on stair towers to your beautiful form.  If you wish to express these stair towers, then that should be considered as part of your form – not added on to it.  More likely the case is integrating these volumes within the form you are working with, and this typically means integrating stair tower volumes with other volumes (mass / program) within your program development so the stair towers don’t read as isolated volumes.
  • To be clear: we are not asking that this diagram also represent section, form, structure.  NO – it is focused on expressing the egress / circulation system.  But to do this well, requires that you are also thinking through – that is integrating – form, program, spatial experience, structure.
So what is the big take away? Circulation / egress is not just a code requirement, or a requirement imposed by your faculty.  It affects the overall organization of your building – programmatically, formally,  spatially, and even to a certain extent structurally.  Asking you to look at this early in the quarter is intended to allow this to be a guiding force in your design development.  In short, it is design integration.
And lastly, these can be beautiful drawings: beauty in their clarity; beauty in expressing complex organization in a simple and clear way.  What mathematicians would describe as elegant.
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