DwightB

August 19th, 2011, 18:35

An architect here, 2006 IBC:

Consider a typical church, which I have in this case. A group of people gather at a time to worship and study. When they study, they are in classrooms throughout the building. When they worship, they are in an assembly room with fixed pews, dutifully seated with one person every 18" (these are really skinny people). There are some occasions when they will also gather for a fellowship dinner. In typical cases, not everyone who comes for worship services will also be there during class time. In fact, during my 39 years of church design, I've seen that most church's have about a 50% to 60% ratio, class to worship proportion. Some churches will average as high as 80% to 90%. We normally see the same pattern with "all church" dinners, in that there are seldom times when everyone will gather for a dinner; the ratio there for many churches is about 50%, but smaller churches actually can approach 100%.

Now comes my current client. We have an assembly space with seating for 239 at 18" per person. I tabulate each pew individually and round down because if a pew does not fit 8.75 people, I only need to count 8 toward room capacity. When those people go to (or come from) classes, this building has 8 classrooms with a total of 111 capacity, or about 46% of worship attendance. When they fellowship, we have a fellowship hall available the seats 244 (7 sf/person), or about 102% capacity.

The building official says the occupant load for this building is 239+111+244=594 and must be sprinkled. Logic would say that the people in worship are the same people who attend those classes and eat those dinners, so the maximum load is the 239 or 244, largest room capacity, both under the 300 capacity sprinkler trigger.

The local zoning regulation for churches requires 1 car per 6 seats, based upon maximum seating capacity. If I use the 244 capacity, then I'm required to provide 41 spaces; I have 60 spaces. If I must use the total number of people with every room filled at once for total occupancy, then using the 1/6 factor, 594 people on site will require 99 cars. If I eliminate the building, I may be able to fit the extra 39 cars, but that would seem to be a Catch-22.

Consider a typical church, which I have in this case. A group of people gather at a time to worship and study. When they study, they are in classrooms throughout the building. When they worship, they are in an assembly room with fixed pews, dutifully seated with one person every 18" (these are really skinny people). There are some occasions when they will also gather for a fellowship dinner. In typical cases, not everyone who comes for worship services will also be there during class time. In fact, during my 39 years of church design, I've seen that most church's have about a 50% to 60% ratio, class to worship proportion. Some churches will average as high as 80% to 90%. We normally see the same pattern with "all church" dinners, in that there are seldom times when everyone will gather for a dinner; the ratio there for many churches is about 50%, but smaller churches actually can approach 100%.

Now comes my current client. We have an assembly space with seating for 239 at 18" per person. I tabulate each pew individually and round down because if a pew does not fit 8.75 people, I only need to count 8 toward room capacity. When those people go to (or come from) classes, this building has 8 classrooms with a total of 111 capacity, or about 46% of worship attendance. When they fellowship, we have a fellowship hall available the seats 244 (7 sf/person), or about 102% capacity.

The building official says the occupant load for this building is 239+111+244=594 and must be sprinkled. Logic would say that the people in worship are the same people who attend those classes and eat those dinners, so the maximum load is the 239 or 244, largest room capacity, both under the 300 capacity sprinkler trigger.

The local zoning regulation for churches requires 1 car per 6 seats, based upon maximum seating capacity. If I use the 244 capacity, then I'm required to provide 41 spaces; I have 60 spaces. If I must use the total number of people with every room filled at once for total occupancy, then using the 1/6 factor, 594 people on site will require 99 cars. If I eliminate the building, I may be able to fit the extra 39 cars, but that would seem to be a Catch-22.