BCAB #1581 - Egress Through a Courtyard,,, and

May 29, 2003

BCAB #1581

Re: Egress Through a Courtyard,,,  and

Project Description

The subject is a four level residential building with two levels of underground parking. The four residential stories are divided into two wings linked by a walkway on each storey.  At the most distant end of each wing there are exit stair shafts. There are residential suites that egress directly onto the walkway.  Elevators also discharge onto the walkway at each floor level.

The linking walkways run through an interior “courtyard”, which is enclosed by walls except for approximately 7% of its perimeter that is open wood screen.  An open convenience stairway connects the walkways on each storey including the two levels of the below grade storage garage.  Each residential wing has a door, which separates its public corridor from the walkway/courtyard, but these doors are not installed as closures. The interior “courtyard” is approximately 70% covered by roofs or skylights, with the remaining 30% open to the sky.

The walls separating the public corridor (of each wing) and the walls common to the suites and the walkway within the “courtyard” are separated by a fire separation with a fire resistance rating of 1 hour.

Reason for Appeal

Sentence requires each suite in a floor area that contains more than one suite to have an exterior exit doorway, or a doorway into a public corridor or exterior passageway.  Sentence requires that when you enter the corridor or exterior passageway, it shall be possible to go in opposite directions to each of 2 separate exits. Sentence requires a public corridor to be separated from the remainder of the building by a fire separation with a fire resistance rating of not less than 1 hour.

Appellant’s Position

The appellant considers the walkways through the “courtyard” as exterior public corridors and are extensions (connectors) of the interior public corridors of each adjacent wing.  As both the interior and exterior portions are separated from the remainder of the building by a 1 hour fire separation, the appellant contends the design complies with the Building Code.

Building Official's Position

The Building Official considers each residential wing is a floor area on the same storey connected by a walkway.  Sentence requires exit facilities be provided for every floor area.  Sentence states that every floor area shall be served by at least 2 exits.  The proposed design would require leaving a floor area, and crossing the walkway to enter another floor area in order to access one of the required exits.  Further, there are four residential suites on each storey which exit directly onto the walkway, which is the only means of egress from these suites. 

The Building Official also has concerns that with the majority of the “courtyard” being enclosed, it creates interconnected floor spaces, particularly with the doors of each wing entering the “courtyard” not installed as latching closures.

Appeal Board Decision #1581

Previous Board decisions (#1046, #1313 and #1559) were based on differing site specific conditions related to height of the courtyard and the extent of wall and roof enclosure.  In this appeal, approximately 93% of the perimeter walls of the "courtyard" are considered enclosed, and the majority of the "courtyard" area is covered by roof.

It is the determination of the Board that the "courtyard" area must be considered interior space.  This would require the public corridor to be completely separated from the "courtyard" on all storeys, or that interconnected floor space protection be provided. 

The Board wishes to emphasise that this decision is specific to the circumstances related to the design of this building and further suggests that code compliance of unusual or unconventional aspects of building design may be appropriately addressed through Section 2.5, equivalents. 

George Humphrey, Chair