Category Archives: Codes & Regulations

Information on codes and regulations that effect architecture in New Jersey.

Last Day for Post Disaster Training “Early” Registrations

Sign-up for Post Disaster Assessment Training Today

Early Registration ends today – April 1st –
Registrations after April 1st will not include Training Manual (a $50 value)

April 11, 2015
8:30 am to 4:00 pm
at NJIT School of Architecture
6 AIA HSW CEU

Click here to Sign Up now !

2015 Disaster Training Promo II with background color

AIA New Jersey Creates Task Force on Lightweight Wood-Framed Construction

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TRENTON, N.J. (March 2015) — In the aftermath of the Avalon Edgewater Building Fire, the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ) has announced the formation of a task force of member architects to review possible improvements to design practices and building codes and standards in order to enhance building safety in New Jersey.

The Task Force will examine various issues specific to lightweight wood-framed buildings and make recommendations that, if implemented, could reduce property damage, provide additional time for people to reach safety, and allow the fire service more time to effectively address these emergencies.

Justin Mihalik, AIA

Justin Mihalik, AIA

Chaired by Justin A. Mihalik, AIA New Jersey President-elect, the AIA New Jersey Task Force will build upon its standard code advisory processes and conduct these additional meetings to review lightweight wood framing design issues and formulate recommendations to assist New Jersey policymakers in promulgating regulations that will make buildings of this type safer.

“Improving building safety through smarter design has always been a priority of architects,” said Justin A. Mihalik, AIA. “AIA-NJ is prepared to further assist public safety officials in this shared goal with the creation of this task force.”

The Task Force will make advisory recommendations on containment methods and use of lightweight wood-framed construction materials. These recommendations will be formulated into a written report to be presented to official agencies with the intent of improving building safety in the Garden State and around the country. Task force members will include David Del Vecchio, AIA, Robert M. Longo, AIA, Jason Lutz, AIA, William J. Martin, AIA and Yogish Mistry, AIA. The Task force is expected to complete this work in the coming months.

Support Historic Preservation Funding – Important Deadline March 18th

AIA Members –

Please ask your Member of Congress to support historic preservation funding. Historic preservation programming on the state and federal level relies on annual funding appropriated by Congress to continue to run – we need your help TODAY to make sure that happens. Please ask your Member of Congress to sign on to the historic preservation funding letter.  We need to act fast – the deadline for legislators to sign this letter is Wednesday, March 18.

These core historic preservation programs help stimulate private investment, spur economic growth and create jobs while revitalizing our communities and protecting the nation’s cultural heritage.  The letter for the funding request would provide grants to preserve and protect vital pieces of America’s cultural heritage such as historic civil rights sites and historically black colleges and universities, preserving them for future generations.

Without continued funding by Congress, the offices that administer the Historic Tax Credit and other key historic preservation programs could close, leaving citizens without the needed tools to revitalize, rehabilitate, and protect the places that give meaning to America.

Please act today.

Help protect these programs for the future by telling your Member of Congress that we need their help now and that they should sign the letter by Wednesday, March 18 to make their voice heard!

TAKE ACTION NOW

 

 

Lightweight Construction Materials – the Public’s Perception

Mihalick_2014Submitted by Justin A. Mihalik, AIA 
2015 AIANJ President-Elect

As a result of the AvalonBay fire in Edgewater, I was interviewed by PIX 11 news and Al Jazeera America as a representative of AIANJ, for the Architect’s perspective on lightweight wood construction materials.  Architects understand that the building code takes into consideration the use group of a building as well as the construction type of materials in order to determine how then to protect the materials being used in order to meet a minimum standard and to be considered “safe”.  But what is the public’s perception of “safe”?  After all, as Architects, it is our responsibility to design “safe” buildings.  In watching many Youtube videos and reading white papers on the subject of lightweight construction as I prepared for the interview, I found that the public’s perception of engineered lightweight materials, mainly wood I-joists, is that they are “cheap”.

 

There are a few reasons for this that I can understand from a lay person’s perspective.  One being that the material used for the web of the I-joist, which is oriented strand board or OSB, appears to be a cheap wafer board.  A second one is that after a fire, not much of a structure built with these materials is still standing.  Being interviewed at the AvalonBay site, it did not take an experienced eye to see that the stair towers and elevator shafts that were constructed of masonry concrete block were the only structures standing amongst a sea of wood debris.  It was clear to the eye that the masonry concrete block was far superior to the wood because it had survived the fire.

Architects also understand that the building code does not require the building to fully withstand a fire but only that it withstands the fire long enough for its occupants to escape in a safe manner.  The public does not understand that this is in fact the way the building code works.  It is up to the Architect and the owner of the building to design it in such a way that it potentially can withstand a fire and the effects of fighting the fire in order to minimize the reconstruction.  So is the public wrong for having the perception that engineered lightweight wood materials are cheap?  Or is it the industry’s fault for allowing this perception to exist?

There is one other party that should be involved in this conversation and that is the insurance industry since they are making the payouts on policies to then reconstruct these buildings.  Fortunately, no lives were lost in the AvalonBay fire.  So do we then believe that the building code was sufficient?

Any Architect that has been involved in repairing/reconstructing a building after a fire understands that it is a liability nightmare and that the best approach for the owner is to rebuild the structure.  Rebuilding instead of repairing should not be a problem since the insurance policy covers for the “replacement value”.  Well, anyone who has worked on a fire job also knows that the term “replacement value” is vague and does not guarantee that this “value” will in fact cover the full cost of the reconstruction.  A question for Architects to consider is the following: how sustainable or resilient are the current practices in constructing single or multi-family buildings if they cannot withstand a fire?

Recently legislation was proposed by Republican Assemblyman Scott T. Rumana, bill A4195 (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/A4500/4195_I1.HTM), and if approved it would impose a two year moratorium on the use of lightweight construction materials in multi-family buildings.  The proposed bill not only includes engineered wood, but also traditional nominal wood and steel bar joists.  If approved, this bill would be devastating to the construction industry and would affect not only job creation, the housing market, but also architectural firms.  Safety is ultimately the most important issue when it comes to buildings.  Does this bill take this too far?

Redevelopment Forum on March 13

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New Jersey Future’s Redevelopment Forum is a daylong conference that brings together more than 500 municipal and state leaders and leading professionals in planning, development, law, transportation, architecture, construction, environmental conservation and historic preservation to share best practices and lessons learned.  We have applied for and expect to receive AIA, AICP, CLE and GBCI continuing education credits
Tickets are $110 for New Jersey Future members, municipal employees and non-profits  and $150 for non-members until February 20 (after February 20 tickets are $155 for members and $190 for non-members).
Questions: contact Marianne Jann at 609-393-0008, ext. 101.

AIA New Jersey Interviewed by WPIX TV Regarding Lightweight Wood Construction

edgewater-fire-chopper-2In the wake of the tragic events of the Avalon at Edgewater fire, Justin Mihalik, AIA, the newly elected President-Elect of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects, was recently interviewed by WPIX TV regarding the use of lightweight wood construction.  You can see the WPIX report here. The report is 5:26 in length.  Justin’s comments start at approximately the 1:59 mark and run through the 3:00 mark.

Granted, the conversation is far more complex than can be explained in one minute of TV time. And, the issue has received significant attention, including legislation proposing mandating fire sprinklers in all residential construction (Bill A1698) and a proposed two-year moratorium on all lightweight wood construction. Given the severity of the event and the public attention, it is more important than ever that architects and AIA New Jersey have a voice in this discussion.

This issue is being actively addressed by our Codes & Standards Committee, chaired by Robert Longo, AIA, our Legistative & Government Affairs Committee, chaired by David Del Vecchio, AIA, our Public Awareness Committee, chaired by Bruce Turner, AIA, our President, Kimberly Bunn, AIA, our Executive Director, Joe Simonetta, and the Executive Committee. Therefore, please make sure you share your opinions with your leaders of AIA New Jersey and your political representatives. Architects cannot stand on the sidelines while others determine the shape of the built environment.

Bruce Turner, AIA
Public Awareness Committee Chair

Coastal Floor Mitigation Workshop

 

 

Preservation New Jersey is presenting a series of workshops on Resiliency.
Co-Sponsor: New Jersey Historic Trust

Date: March 12, 2015
Times: 2 pm – 5:30 pm (Registration begins at 1 pm)

Cost: $25.00
Pre-registration encouraged
AIA Continuing Education Credits available.

 

 

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ICC 2015 Code Updates

BOB LONGO HEADSHOT 2014On behalf of AIA NJ, I attended the NJ Uniform Construction Code Advisory Board Meeting last Friday. John Terry reported that Governor Christie signed the legislation to adopt the 2015 ICC series of codes with the amendments recommended by DCA. The proposed amendments are expected to be published in the NJ Register on January 5, 2015.

As you may be aware there is a 60 day public comment period after which some revisions are likely before the law is formally adopted. DCA estimates adoption in June or July 2015. Considering the 6 month grace period (the time in which the design professional can choose to use either code) the 2015 ICC codes should become mandatory about a year from now.

AIA NJ is planning on hosting seminars on the updates to the IBC prior to adoption next year. Stay tuned . . .

Robert M. Longo, AIA

Reciprocity With Canada

Grassroots 2009In his recent trip to Canada, Governor Christie said “I’ve gotten the impression over time, watching American foreign policy, that Canada has been an afterthought……I don’t think we pay enough attention to this relationship as Americans in general. I’ve made a very conscious decision to come to Canada and to come here to Alberta because we should treat our friends with both respect and attention.”

This statement comes on the heels of a recent tri-national agreement by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Canadian Licensing Authorities (CALA), and the Federacion de Colegios de Architectos de la Republica Mexicana (FCARM), making it possible for architects to work across North American boarders.

With all of this in mind, it is time for the State of New Jersey to take specific action to address New Jersey’s relationship Canada relative to the practice of architecture. Specifically, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects renews its call for the State of New Jersey to resolve impediments to cross border licensure with Canada, and stands ready and willing to work with all relevant parties to find a workable solution for New Jersey.

RREM Seminar for Construction & Design Professionals

 

Still time to register for December 10th or December 11th RREM Seminars
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