Ruling No. 01-04-797 Application No. 2000-82
BUILDING CODE COMMISSION IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24 (1) of the Building Code Act, 1992. AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 18.104.22.168.(3), (4), (5) and (6) Article 22.214.171.124., Sentence 126.96.36.199.(1), Article 188.8.131.52. and Clause 184.108.40.206.(1)(c) of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99, 278/99, 593/99, 597/99 and 205/00 (the “Ontario Building Code”). AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Harry Cavender, Team Leader, Fanshawe College, London, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Jim Foster, Chief Building Official, City of St. Thomas, Ontario, to determine whether the proposed mezzanine, upper mezzanine and grid iron areas intended for a live performance teaching facility, in conjunction with certain additional protective measures, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 220.127.116.11., Sentences 18.104.22.168.(3),(4) and (5), Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1), Article 126.96.36.199. and Clause 188.8.131.52.(1)(c) of the Ontario Building Code at the Fanshawe College “Live Performance Industry” Facility, St. Thomas / Elgin Campus, 120 Bill Martyn Parkway, St. Thomas, Ontario. APPLICANT
Mr. Harry Cavender, Team Leader Fanshawe College London, Ontario
Mr. Jim Foster Chief Building Official City of St. Thomas
Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair Mr. John Guthrie Mr. Fred Barkhouse
DATE OF HEARING
February 8th, 2001
DATE OF RULING
February 8th, 2001
Ms. Valerie M’Garry Solicitor London, Ontario Agent for the Applicant Mr. Jim Foster Chief Building Official St. Thomas, Ontario The Respondent
Mr. Harry Cavender, Team Leader, Fanshawe College, London, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 and is constructing an addition onto the existing Fanshawe College building, St. Thomas / Elgin Campus, 120 Bill Martyn Parkway, St. Thomas, Ontario. 2.
Description of Construction
The Applicant is proposing to construct a live theatre performance teaching facility onto an existing college structure. As a teaching space, the addition has been classified as a Group A, Division 2 assembly occupancy, and not as an A1 use, which is applicable to most theatres. The addition, to the north of the existing building, with a building area of 1,259 m2, combined with the 10,580 m2 building area of the existing structure will create an expanded facility of 11,839 m2. The building, including addition, is further described as being of noncombustible construction and as having fire separations with fire resistance ratings of one hour in accordance with the requirements of Article 184.108.40.206. The structure is considered as facing one street for fire fighting purposes. The building will be equipped with a sprinkler system and a fire alarm system, but not a standpipe and hose system. Among the features provided within the proposed addition, which is known as the “Live Performance Industry” facility, there is to be a studio theatre (referred to as the studio). As an instructional facility, the studio is designed to be a legitimate theatre with a fully equipped stage, fly tower and control room, etc. However, because its purpose is mainly teaching students how to operate stage equipment, it is to have far fewer seats than a regular theatre. As such, the ratio of stage area to seating area in the facility is considerably smaller than a conventional legitimate theatre. Consequently, the mezzanine levels have a much larger percentage in terms of area in comparison with the size of the room/studio. The studio is to be configured with the stage area located at the eastern end of the room. Immediately above the stage, covering nearly its entire area, will be the grid, or grid iron, level. Opposite the stage is to be the audience area that will accommodate the non-fixed seats. Above the audience area, at the farthest, or extreme western end of the studio, is to be the mezzanine, or control room. On top of the control room will be the upper mezzanine, or catwalk. A single flight of stairs running near the southern, stage left, side of the studio is to connect the upper mezzanine with the loading bridge. The loading bridge, in turn, will form the southern end of the grid iron. The loading bridge is designed to span the entire width of the grid and will terminate at a spiral stair that is to descend down all levels ending at the stage. The determination of the number of storeys present in the studio, and thereby the building, is part of the dispute between the Applicant and Respondent. The Applicant holds that the building has remained at one storey despite the construction of the theatre space. In his view, the various levels of the studio should be considered as mezzanines. The Respondent believes the studio room within the theatre addition may contain multi storeys. From this basic dispute arises much of the following more specific concerns between the parties.
-3The mezzanine areas have three distinct levels: the grid, the upper mezzanine/catwalk, and the control room. None of these areas will be considered as being accessible by the public. The grid (in front of the audience), the highest of the levels, is to be constructed mainly with an open 76 mm (3 in) steel mesh floor to allow good visual and oral communication between the flymen (those on the grid) and the stagehands below. There are to be five slots or channels 254 mm (10 in) wide, known as grid wells, that traverse the entire width of the grid (or depth of the stage). These are to accommodate the lift lines that will be used for rigging props, scenery etc. At the proscenium opening, where the stage and auditorium area interface, the grid will be provided with an open steel guard that consists of a single horizontal rail measuring 1,070 mm (42 in) in height supported by vertical posts set at approximately 915 mm (3 ft) on centre. This guard, which is also to be used as a fixture to attach lighting, is not in dispute. At its far southern end, or stage left, the grid will connect to the loading bridge which is an area that will be used for hoisting equipment between the stage and grid level. Due to the requirement of lifting material and equipment ( in this side stage area where it will not be seen by the audience), the loading bridge, however, is to terminate approximately 915 mm (3 ft) short of connecting to the studio’s south wall. At this edge, the loading bridge is to be provided with a guard having the same design as at the proscenium opening. The catwalk (behind and above the audience) is to be positioned approximately 1.2 to 1.5 m (4 to 5 ft) below the level of the grid. The catwalk is intended to provide an area to conduct various theatrical effects, especially lighting. It will have a solid decking surface. At its rear, or western end, a single straight flight of stairs connecting to the control room level below is to be provided. The guard proposed to separate the catwalk from the open space overlooking the audience and the stair opening to the lower level will be the same as on the grid iron. The guard on the audience side of the catwalk will also be used for attaching lights. The control room (behind and above the audience) is to be the lowest of the raised levels. It will contain three separate booths that are to house the main sound controls, lighting controls and the “follow spot light”. As booths, the control room level will not have guards protecting persons from the differing floor levels, but will instead have mainly glazed partitions overlooking the audience. (The audience seating can be extended underneath the raised control room.) A two flight stair separated by a 900 landing will serve the control room area. As a stair with a right angle run, it is to be located at the rear and south of the control rooms. 3.
The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed grid, catwalk and control room areas intended for use within a live performance theatre teaching facility, in conjunction with certain additional protective measures, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 220.127.116.11.(3), (4), (5) and (6), Article 18.104.22.168., Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1), Article 126.96.36.199. and Clause 188.8.131.52.(1)(c) of the Ontario Building Code. The first provision, Article 184.108.40.206., in certain circumstances, determines building height. Specifically, it provides exceptions when raised levels need not be considered as storeys. Applicable to the present case is Sentence 220.127.116.11.(3) which, with exceptions discussed below, sets out the conditions under which a mezzanine can be exempted from being a storey. Among the requirements imposed is that a mezzanine cannot exceed 40 percent of the area of the room in
-4which it is located. As noted before, since the proposed addition is designed as a teaching studio and not a regular theatre, the instructional spaces are fully sized but the audience space is considerably reduced. This situation allots a far larger percentage, exceeding 40 percent, of raised areas in comparison with the room size. The grid, catwalk and control room levels therefore do not conform with this condition necessary in order to enable them to be considered mezzanines under Sentence (3). Sentence 18.104.22.168.(4) is an exception to Sentence (3). It provides an alternative exemption from designating a raised level as a storey. Sentence (4), with the exception of Sentence (5), allows a mezzanine not to be considered as a storey if the total area of the raised level does not exceed ten percent (in this case Clause (b) is applicable) of the storey in which it is located. The aggregate area of the three mezzanines, however, also exceeds 10 percent of the storey (of the new addition). Nevertheless, Sentence 22.214.171.124.(5), as an exception to Sentence (4), is relevant in the present instance. It requires, with an exception not applicable here, that if one mezzanine level is located above another, then the upper level must be considered as a storey. As described in the previous section, the catwalk in the studio is wholly situated on top of control booth level. Consequently, even if the mezzanine areas were of a size that compliance with Sentences (3) or (4) were possible, due to Sentence (5), the studio would have to be considered as a two storey space. As a result, Sentence (6) of Article 126.96.36.199. is germane. It states that a mezzanine that is considered as a storey must meet the fire separation requirements of Articles 188.8.131.52. to 184.108.40.206. For the subject addition, the appropriate Article is 220.127.116.11. Article 18.104.22.168. sets out building size and construction relative to occupancy. In this instance, the subject addition must, in terms of construction standards, provide floor assemblies, mezzanines and load bearing members with a fire resistance rating of one hour. As proposed, the various upper levels of the studio will not provide a one hour rating. Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1) provides a specific set of exemptions to the special protection, especially in terms of fire safety, often required for a mezzanine. Among the conditions set out that offer exemption is that the mezzanine serve an A1 major occupancy, which is the classification given to most legitimate theatres. As indicated prior, the addition however, as an instructional space, is classified as an A2 occupancy. Article 126.96.36.199. deals with exiting from a mezzanine. It states that the exit facilities for a mezzanine shall be the same as those for a floor area unless specifically exempted in Sentences (2) to (4). Again, the proposed mezzanines do not qualify for the exceptions provided. This means that the grid iron, having a proposed travel distance of approximately 60 m from its most remote area, must be provided with an additional exit in order to comply with the exiting requirement of 45 m found in Clause 188.8.131.52.(1)(c). It is alleged therefore that the construction as proposed does not meet Code requirements in certain areas described above. To address these apparent deficiencies, the Applicants are proposing certain compensating measures. According to the Applicant, this compensating construction includes the installation of a smoke-activated visual alarm system and a smoke hatch over the grid iron area. The Applicant is also proposing to “develop and post a fire safety plan, and ensure that all instructors and other users of the facility are knowledgeable of it.” The issue at dispute then is whether the proposed construction, in conjunction with the intended compensating measures achieves a level of safety in the studio so as to sufficiently comply with the aforementioned requirements of the Ontario Building Code.
Provisions of the Ontario Building Code
Sentences 184.108.40.206.(3) to (6)
Exceptions in Determining Building Height
(3) Except as required in Sentence (4), (5) & (8), a mezzanine shall not be considered as a storey in calculating the building height provided (a) the aggregate area of the mezzanine floor is not more than 40% of the area of the room or storey in which it is located, (b) it is used as an open floor area except as permitted by Sentence 220.127.116.11.(3), and (c) the space above the mezzanine floor has no visual obstructions more than 1 070 mm (3 ft 6 in) above the floor. (See Appendix A). (4) Except as required by Sentence (5), a mezzanine shall not be considered as a storey in calculating building height and need not conform to Sentence (3) provided the aggregate area of the mezzanine floor is not more than 10% of the area of the (a) the suite in which it is located, where there is more than one suite in the storey, or (b) the storey in which it is located, in all other cases. (See A-18.104.22.168.(3) in Appendix A). (5) Except as permitted by Sentence (8), if one or more levels of mezzanine is partially or wholly superimposed above another mezzanine in the room or storey, each level additional to the first level shall be considered as a storey in calculating the building height. (6) The floor assembly of a mezzanine that is required to be considered as a storey in determining building height, shall be constructed in conformance with the fire separation requirements of Articles 22.214.171.124 to 126.96.36.199, for floor assemblies. Article 188.8.131.52.
Group A, Division 2, up to 6 Storeys, Any Area, Sprinklered
(1) A building classified as Group A, Division 2, that is not limited by building area, is permitted to conform to Sentence (2) provided (a) except as permitted by Sentence 184.108.40.206.(1), the building is sprinklered, and (b) it is not more than 6 storeys in building height. (2) Except as permitted by Article 220.127.116.11., the building referred to in Sentence (1) shall be of noncombustible construction, and (a) floor assemblies shall be fire separations with a fire-resistance rating not less than 1 h, (b) mezzanines shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than 1 hr, and (c) all load-bearing walls, columns and arches shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than that required for the supported assembly. Sentence 18.104.22.168.
Exceptions to Special Protection
(1) A mezzanine need not terminate at a vertical fire separation nor be protected in conformance with the requirements of Article 22.214.171.124. to 126.96.36.199. provided the mezzanine (a) serves a Group A, Division 1 major occupancy, (b) serves a Group A, Division 3 major occupancy in a building not more than 2 storeys in building height, or
is not considered as a storey in Sentences 188.8.131.52.(3) or 184.108.40.206.(5) in calculating building height provided (i) every point on the mezzanine is within 25 m (82 ft) of a point or points on the mezzanine perimeter from which, in the aggregate, an occupant may view 60% of the area of the room or storey in which the mezzanine is located, and (ii) the mezzanine does not contain a Group B occupancy, is not considered a storey in Sentence 220.127.116.11. (4) in calculating building height provided the mezzanine is not more than 500 m (5,380 m) in area and does not contain a Group B occupancy, or is not considered a storey in calculating building height in Sentence 18.104.22.168.(8).
(1) Except as permitted by Sentences (2), (3) or (4), a mezzanine shall be provided with exits on the same basis as required for floor areas by this Section. (See Sentences 22.214.171.124.(2) and (3) for egress requirements.) (2) A mezzanine need not conform to Sentence (1) provided Article 126.96.36.199. does not require it to terminate at a vertical fire separation. (3) In a floor area that is not sprinklered, a mezzanine need not conform to Sentence (1) where Article 188.8.131.52. does require it to terminate at a vertical fire separation provided the total occupant load of the mezzanine is not more than 60 and, (a) the area of the mezzanine does not exceed the area limits for rooms and suites in Table 184.108.40.206.A., and (b) the distance limits in Table 220.127.116.11.A are not exceeded from any point on the mezzanine to (i) the egress doorway from the room in which the mezzanine is located if that room has a single egress doorway, or (ii) an egress facility leading from the mezzanine if the room in which the mezzanine is located has 2 egress doorways provided in conformance with Subsection 3.3.1. (4) In a floor area that is sprinklered, a mezzanine need not conform to Sentence (1) where Article 18.104.22.168. does require it to terminate at a vertical fire separation provided the total occupant load of the mezzanine is not more than 60 and, (a) the area of the mezzanine does not exceed the area limits for rooms and suites in Table 22.214.171.124.B, and (b) the distance of travel is not more than 25 m (82 ft) when measured from any point on the mezzanine to (i) the egress doorway from the room in which the mezzanine is located if that room has a single egress doorway, or (ii) an egress facility leading from the mezzanine if the room in which the mezzanine is located has 2 egress doorways provided in conformance with Subsection 3.3.1. Clause 126.96.36.199.(1)(c)
Location of Exits
(1) Except as permitted by Sentences (2), (3) and 188.8.131.52.(6), if more than one exit is required from a floor area, the exits shall be located so that the travel distance to at least one exit shall be not more than...
45 m (147 ft 8 in) in a floor area that contains an occupancy other than a high hazard industrial occupancy, provided it is sprinklered.
The Agent for the Applicant began their presentation with a brief description of the project. As an instructional facility, it is a mini theatre, she stated, but because it has a low number of seats, the proportion of the mezzanine area in comparison with the remainder of the room is well over 40 percent. However, in order to serve its purpose, the studio must be constructed as such. Fanshawe College, she noted, trains theatre technicians, not actors. The Agent then described the proposed multiple mezzanines in the studio space and how they are to function. The three levels must operate with coordination from each other and from the stage below. As a result, they need to be as open as possible. The grid, in particular, since it sits directly above the stage, must have an open floor system with its line well slots. Without being constructed in this manner, it would be impossible to perform its intended function. This openness, the Agent added, also makes the mezzanines, especially the grid, quite safe. Fire and/or other emergencies will be detected almost instantly, giving persons on the grid ample time to react appropriately, she argued. A theatre safety consultant, appearing on behalf of the Applicant, also provided explanation as to how the three levels of the facility are to operate. He elaborated on the argument that the facility had to be designed in this manner or it would render the training of theatre technicians meaningless. He added that it enhances the future safety of all theatres and the individual safety for the in-training students if they learn in a real life situation so they are well prepared for the facilities in which they will eventually work. The consultant also noted that many similar multi mezzanine facilities have been built, most being in legitimate theatres and some found in post-secondary performance centres. Also contributing to the safety of the mezzanines will be their low occupant load, the Agent explained. She indicated that a maximum of 15 to 16 persons, including instructors, would be on the various mezzanine levels during classes. The students will be of relatively mature age, being at least 18 years old or more. As well, while on the mezzanines, they will be supervised. On the grid there would be as few as four persons when setting up a show and no one would be on the grid during a show, the Agent noted. In addition, the total occupant load for the studio when a performance is taking place would be approximately 75 persons, including students and instructors. During such times, the audience will be prevented from gaining access to the mezzanines since the stairs will be gated at the ground floor level. The Agent acknowledged that much of the issue at hand dealt with fire safety and as a consequence had to be taken as a “matter of utmost importance”. In this regard, she argued that the studio and the addition as a whole will be quite safe. For example, the building, including the addition, are noncombustible construction and the studio itself is to be separated from the remainder of the building by a one hour rated wall. The building is also equipped with full sprinkler and fire alarm systems, she noted. Moreover, as compensatory measures, the studio portion of the alarm system will be equipped with a smoke-activated visual (strobe) alarm. In addition, the smoke management system in the studio will include a smoke hatch above the grid iron area and a fire safety plan will be developed with training provided for faculty and students, etc. During the hearing the Agent offered to improve upon the compensating measures already provided in three ways. First, the proposed spiral stairs at the southeast corner will be replaced with a Code
-8compliant set of egress stairs. Secondly, the Agent offered to ensure that all proposed guards would be modified to comply with OBC requirements except in the loading gallery area where the guard design would be changed to include a single upper horizontal rail and a mid-level horizontal rail. Thirdly, she also offered to improve the safety of the loading gallery area by affixing a series of horizontal metal rods, 203 mm (8 in) on centre which span between the floor of the loading gallery area and the wall opposite. With respect to the issue of travel distance, the Agent indicated that it had been resolved with the Respondent. The travel distance will now meet the 45 m requirement set out in Clause 184.108.40.206.(1)(c). The Agent also argued that the stage and mezzanine areas, as designed, are recognized by Code. In fact, if they were to simply create additional seating capacity in the audience area of the facility compliance would be achieved. However, adding seats would in no way improve the physical safety of the building. Adding seats is an unnecessary expense, the Agent argued. And building a large theatre in St. Thomas, with a population of approximately 30,000 people, does not make economic sense. Finally, the agent argued that the BCC could choose to consider the mezzanines as working areas or platforms which may allow for some exemptions or relaxations under the Building Code. She indicated that a precedent has already been created in this regard. The Mississauga Living Arts Centre successfully established that is its grid area can be considered as a working platform. 6.
The Respondent submitted that he does not object to the proposal, however, he indicated that he does not have the authority to approve it. The Code is clear on the matter of the mezzanines and their determination as floor levels, he argued. Regarding the proposed compensating measures, the Respondent noted that while they would improve the level of safety in the building, the building code does not specifically recognize such alternative methods of compliance. As a result, he stated that the municipality must abide by its responsibility to enforce the prescriptive standards in the Code. 7.
It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed mezzanine, the upper mezzanine and grid iron areas intended as part of a live performance teaching facility, in conjunction with the additional protective measures offered, provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 220.127.116.11.(3),(4) and (5), Article 18.104.22.168., Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1), Article 126.96.36.199. and Clause 188.8.131.52.(1)(c) of the Ontario Building Code at the Fanshawe College “Live Performance Industry” Facility, St. Thomas/Elgin Campus, 120 Bill Martyn Parkway, St. Thomas, Ontario on condition that: a)
All stairs and guards must conform to the OBC, except in the loading gallery area where the guard is to be modified to include a single upper horizontal handrail and a single centre horizontal rail; and,
Installed at the edge of the loading gallery area will be a series of horizontal metal bars at 203 mm (8 in) on centres that span perpendicular from floor level of the loading gallery to the opposite wall.
The proposed addition includes a training facility equipped with all the characteristics and elements for live theatre performances, but which is not contained within a legitimate theatre. As a result, in the Commission’s view, it will not function as a typical A2 occupancy.
The occupant load on the mezzanines and grid iron areas, at less than 20 students, will be limited. Students will be supervised when on these areas.
The stair to the mezzanines and grid iron areas is to be gated for limited control and access.
With the above condition “a” fulfilled, the proposed stairs and guards will satisfy OBC requirements.
The proposed travel distances comply with OBC requirements.
The facility will also be provided with a fire alarm system.
Smoke control will be provided in the theatre facility.
The smoke alarm system will be equipped with a highly visual strobe alarm light.
A fire safety plan approved by the municipal fire department will be developed and all persons to occupy the mezzanine and grid iron areas will receive such training prior to use.
-10Dated at Toronto this 8th day in the month of February in the year 2001 for application number 2000-82.
Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair
Mr. John Guthrie
Mr. Fred Barkhouse