Architectural Considerations

The design of the HVAC system affects the building's ar- i( chitecture and interior design. The architect must coordinate with all consultants from the beginning of the project to allow realistic space allotments for HVAC equipment. The design of the mechanical system must merge with the architectural and structural planning, and should be developed concurrently. Spaces requiring quiet, such as bedrooms and conference rooms, should be located as far away from noisy HVAC equipment as possible, both horizontally and vertically. Interior design issues, such as whether to use an open office plan with modular furniture systems or private enclosed offices, have a great impact on the mechanical system, and should be shared with the engineer early in the design process.

The mechanical engineer decides which HVAC system will be used in a large building. The mechanical engineer selects the system based on initial and life-cycle costs, suitability for the intended occupancy, availability of floor space for the required equipment, maintenance requirements and reliability of the equipment, and simplicity of the system's controls. The architect must communicate and coordinate with the engineer, and ask questions about the impact the engineering system will have on the architectural and interior design.

Together, the architect and engineer evaluate issues that affect the thermal qualities of the building, such as the amount and type of insulation and the shading of the building from the sun's heat, that influence the mechanical equipment size and fuel consumption. The architect may develop design elements that reduce the operating expenses of the system and decrease the size and initial cost of HVAC equipment, but increase the initial cost of the building's construction. The use of cost-effectiveness analyses help determine the optimal economic balance between passive (built into the building's architectural design) and active (mechanical system) approaches.

Early in the project, the architect must consider the number, position, and size of central HVAC stations, and ensure that they are located near the areas they serve and with access to outdoor air. Clearances must be allowed around the equipment for access during normal operation, inspection, routine maintenance, and repair. Plans should be made for eventual replacement of major components without substantial damage to existing building materials. Space for flue stacks, access for fuel delivery, and room for fuel storage may be needed. HVAC requirements can have a substantial impact on the space plan, ceiling heights, and other interior design issues, so getting involved early in the process is a good idea.

Mechanical rooms often take up around 5 to 10 percent of the gross building area. Furnace and boiler rooms, fan rooms, and refrigeration rooms may be separate spaces or may be combined. They may require doors of adequate width for equipment replacement, and the doors might need to be louvered to allow air to enter the space. Their size, location, and noise can be important interior design considerations.

The locations and dimensions of piping and ductwork will determine where chases must be located for clusters of piping and ductwork running vertically between floors. Ductwork, and especially areas where ducts connect, requires regular access for maintenance. Suspended ceiling grids allow easy duct access. Gypsum wallboard ceilings may require access doors at specific locations, including at all fire dampers within ducts. With proper early planning, only minor changes in the floor plan will be needed to fit in the final mechanical design.

Within occupied areas, space must be allocated along exterior walls for exposed terminal delivery devices, such as registers and diffusers. Their form and position must be coordinated with the interior design, to avoid conflicts between furniture arrangements and the location of grilles or wall-mounted units. Thermostat locations are determined by the engineer and are dependent upon the surrounding heat sources, but have a significant effect on the visual quality of the interior space. The architect is also concerned with the appearance on the exterior of the building of grilles and openings in outside walls.

Improved electronic communications networks have made possible the increasing use of residences as workspaces. Residential design has consequently become more complex, entailing office-quality lighting, new zones for heating and cooling, added electrical raceways, and improved sound isolation.

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Responses

  • Sue
    Which consideration will have to evaluate the interior spaces according to architectural design?
    2 years ago

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