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Handrail Requirement at Stepped Lecture Seating

MKALLAY

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I have a project I am reviewing that has me puzzled, perhaps someone here can shed some light on the issue. The situation is this: Our designer has a college building (B occupancy) new construction, falls under IBC 2015. She wants to provide stepped seating at lecture tables. Occupant load for the space is under 50. I am taking the position that Section 1029 Assembly applies (per 1029.1), and handrails will be needed in accordance with subsection 1029.15. The designer thought perhaps 1029.15 may not apply because the space is classified B occupancy, but I pointed out to her that if this was true (but I think not) then she would still need to comply with the general requirements for a handrail at a stair per 1011.11, and that 1029.15 actually helps her, because it provides more leeway for required location and continuity at stepped aisles. All of this seems clear enough to me; but then our designer is pointing out numerous examples of images with stepped aisle seating and no handrails.

So this is where I am puzzled - because I can think of no exceptions that would allow one to NOT have a railing (either along one or both sides, or at the center aisle) . Am I missing something? Are there any exceptions to 1029 for a stepped aisle seating condition that I am not aware of? Is this something that used to be permitted, but in more recent Code editions has become more restrictive? Or is this requirement modified or relaxed in some states and jurisdictions?

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated!
 

tbz

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MK,

Welcome to the forum and don't be a stranger...

The simple answer is the designer is wrong, handrails are always required.

I can find thousands of pictures online of things done wrong and not compliant.

I can even find people jumping off of bridges.

Without seeing plans, I am not sure 1029 would apply and with tables/desk's some AHJ might toss that option out, but most tiered seating with desks would require minimum landings at each level.

As thus, at a minimum the less restrictive requirements of 1029 would apply, but they might not also, which would require (2) handrails and full extensions.

But none at all, I don't see that in the cards.
 

bill1952

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I've been on NFPA assembly occupancy committee since 1987, active in legacy code and now IBC develoment for assembly seating since then as well. If you have steps, handrails are required. As noted assembly area rails are less cumbersome than other stair rails, but follow either.

Like TBZ said, lots of non compliant buildings in photos. I wonder how many of the photos are not in IBC jurisdiction?

I'd remind the designer that justbcomplying with the minimums in the code is barely passing - letter grade "D" - not good design.
 

MKALLAY

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Thank you both for your responses.

I'm not sure how I can insert a photo illustrating what the designer is trying to do - but you can find an illustration of a similar seating/table configuration here: https://www.sediasystems.com/m60. Our designer is trying to achieve this with about 4-5 tiers. I have another project in the office where the designer tried a similar concept, and we ended up installing short segments of handrail at the sides of each writing surface. The local AHJ was satisfied with that approach.

And yes, I agree code compliance is the MINIMUM standard! My task in the world is to get others on board with that idea. It gets interesting, though, when I need to respond to "But we did it this way at..."

Bill1952 - "I've been on NFPA assembly occupancy committee since 1987" - wow! I was still an intern architect in 1987!
 

bill1952

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Are the aisles only side aisles - serving seating on one side and presumably a wall opposite side of aisle - or center aisles - serving seating on both sides of the aisle? I was trying to figure out the strong - presumably aesthetic - objection to the rails.
 

bill1952

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Bill1952 - "I've been on NFPA assembly occupancy committee since 1987" - wow! I was still an intern architect in 1987!
Gave me pause. I was 35 when I joined and am 70 now - half my lifetime. Thought I might go one more cycle which would be the 2027 edition.
 

MKALLAY

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Are the aisles only side aisles - serving seating on one side and presumably a wall opposite side of aisle - or center aisles - serving seating on both sides of the aisle? I was trying to figure out the strong - presumably aesthetic - objection to the rails.
Both conditions, in a U-shaped configuration. The side aisles are easier, the handrail is easy to accommodate along a side wall or guard. it's the center aisles that seem to be the concern, and yes, that is mainly visible, although also some added cost. I think I've got the designer convinced about what we need to do, but just want to be sure I'm not missing something I should know - so many of those things - so little time!
 

MKALLAY

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Like TBZ said, lots of non compliant buildings in photos. I wonder how many of the photos are not in IBC jurisdiction?
Good point - I can't tell you how many times someone brings me a "really cool" handrail detail they found on-line - and I have to point out that the European products don't always comply with our codes!
 

bill1952

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Usually a mid aisle hand rail makes the most sense for center aisles. I'm guessing you have a step or two and a landing so a hairpin hand rail at the risers would be simple - assuming a 4' aisle.
 

TheCommish

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2015 IBC

1029.15 Handrails. Ramped aisles having a slope exceeding
one unit vertical in 15 units horizontal (6.7-percent slope) and
stepped aisles shall be provided with handrails in compliance
with Section 1014 located either at one or both sides of the
aisle or within the aisle width.

Exceptions:
1. Handrails are not required for ramped aisles with
seating on both sides.
2. Handrails are not required where, at the side of the
aisle, there is a guard with a top surface that complies
with the graspability requirements of handrails
in accordance with Section 1014.3.
3. Handrail extensions are not required at the top and
bottom of stepped aisles and ramped aisles to permit
crossovers within the aisles.

1029.15.2 Handrail termination. Handrails located on
the side of stepped aisles shall return to a wall, guard or
the walking surface or shall be continuous to the handrail
of an adjacent stepped aisle flight.

Seems to me with the proposed occupant load design the room with stepped aisle on each end with rails on the walls
 

bill1952

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If people use that aisle, it must have a handrail. While the aisle may not be required, it is still a component of the means of egress, which requires handrails on stairs.

It may be less than desired by designers but based on a majority of occupants who use these rails, it's is desired by the occupants. Watch the video "The Stair Event". Mandatory viewing for anyone involved with the design of aisle stairs.
 

MKALLAY

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If people use that aisle, it must have a handrail. While the aisle may not be required, it is still a component of the means of egress, which requires handrails on stairs.
Bill, I was reading that TheCommish was suggesting that by using only side access, the center aisle and therefore the center rail could be eliminated; but yes, somewhat ambiguous.

The Stair Event - is this about the Canadian Commonwealth Games in 1978?
 

bill1952

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They used the Commonwealth games for research. That work and some other was much of the basis for the assembly seating portion of the 1985 BCMC Means of Egress report, which served as the basis for the first edition of the IBC. I thought in particular the occupant use of the mid aisle rail was relevant.

mkallay - I'd be all in favor of eliminating the center aisle. If you look at a lot of the major.performing arts centers of the last few decades, they avoid center aisles in steeper seating slopes for this and other reasons. I just wasn't in favor of providing handrails on side aisles as a means of not providing them in a center aisle.
 

TheCommish

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My intention was a suggestion to remove the center aisle, without the center aisle the hand rail requirements go away. In place of the center use 2 side aisles with appropriate hand rails on the walls for them. With a total room capacity of less than 50 = 3 rows would be 16 per plus a accessible space on the lowest or highest tier depending on entry level = 49
 

bill1952

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My intention was a suggestion to remove the center aisle, without the center aisle the hand rail requirements go away. In place of the center use 2 side aisles with appropriate hand rails on the walls for them. With a total room capacity of less than 50 = 3 rows would be 16 per plus a accessible space on the lowest or highest tier depending on entry level = 49
Yes we to that works. Some designers (and owners) can't live without a center aisle. (I hate them.) Also, going to longer rows with the this type of seating can make the row wider.
 

TheCommish

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Yes we to that works. Some designers (and owners) can't live without a center aisle. (I hate them.) Also, going to longer rows with the this type of seating can make the row wider.
Some times owners would like something that is not possible with code requirements, so I try to offer a solution, if the solution is not accepatable the code rules
 

tbz

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I have another project in the office where the designer tried a similar concept, and we ended up installing short segments of handrail at the sides of each writing surface. The local AHJ was satisfied with that approach.
MK,

What has always confused me on these types of rooms is that the manufactures of these types of seating systems Know's better.

You would think they would help the designers out with incorporating an option for the handrails on the ends and or at a minimum spell out with a note that handrails are required per the correct sections of model code and 2010 ADA.

Heck even their pictures in the brochures do show some compliance along with the others which might be non-compliance.

As always, there are places on the planet that don't have code requirements, but for liability reasons alone today, designers should think twice if not 3 times about eliminating handrails on purpose!
 

bill1952

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What has always confused me on these types of rooms is that the manufactures of these types of seating systems Know's better.

You would think they would help the designers out with incorporating an option for the handrails on the ends and or at a minimum spell out with a note that handrails are required per the correct sections of model code and 2010 ADA.
I'll just offer there are design consultants who I believe know better than the chair manufactures.

 
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