When you hear the term “commercial architect,” what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you probably think of an architect or a team of architects who design skyscrapers or other large structures like retail centers, sports complexes, hotels, hospitals, or municipal buildings. While commercial architects are the people who design these structures, this isn’t all they do.
To put it simply, a commercial architect is a licensed architect who designs for non-residential clients. Although they require the same license, commercial and residential architectural design are quite a bit different. It is possible to find architects who do both. In fact, my architecture firm in Long Beach, CA completes both commercial and residential projects, but you probably don’t want to hire an architect who only does residential design for your commercial project. This is because commercial spaces have a lot more regulations than residences that an architect needs to keep in mind. A commercial architect will be very familiar with your local building code’s requirements for things like fire safety, egress, and ADA compliance for commercial spaces, while a residential architect may not be as well versed in these areas.
That being said, finding a commercial architect shouldn’t be too difficult—even if your project is relatively small. Except for those architects or architecture firms that have a small area of expertise or only complete very large projects, commercial architects often design for a wide range of clients—large and small.
If your project involves renovating an existing commercial space, you’ll want to look for a tenant improvement architect. These are architects who specialize in making a commercial space more suitable for a specific type of commercial activity. They typically work with business owners who are leasing spaces in commercial buildings and help them customize those spaces to accommodate their staff, equipment, and business activities.
As an architect, tenant improvements are some of my favorite types of projects! I love getting to know business owners and learning about different types of businesses and their unique needs, and then designing a space for them that will help them be as successful as possible! I enjoy the challenge of creating a commercial space that’s both highly functional and aesthetically pleasing.
I always do my best to help reinforce the company culture with the space’s design. For example, some companies want a very collaborative working environment, while others want to provide spaces where their employees can focus, and then there are companies that want to provide both options. As a small business owner myself, I know how important it is to create an inspiring space that is conducive to the type of work being completed.
As you search for a commercial architect for your small business’s needs, be sure to look for one that has your company’s success in mind!short url: