CEA Unit 8: Commercial Design

Using Revit to redesign the Keystone Library


Last semester we focused primarily on residential design.  We looked at designing houses of different sizes and thinking about the needs of consumers of residential homes.  In these cases, ideas like the size of a family, their income, and their interests or needs played a big role in how we designed their house.  This semester we look at commercial buildings – like libraries, schools, hospitals, or shopping malls.  As we do this, our attention turns from the needs of an individual family to the needs of a larger community.  In particular, commercial design will need to consider factors such as:

  • Community safety
  • Larger demands for bathrooms and space access
  • Unique design and layout
  • The purpose of the building itself

As we work through the unit, you’ll complete three major phases:

  1. Learn about land use and zoning regulations
  2. Learn about commercial design for walls, roofs, and floors
  3. Learn about large-scale foundations and how to design a footing

When you’re done, you’ll have the basic knowledge needed to proceed with the renovation of the Keystone Library – our major Revit project of the next two units!


(20 pts)  About 3 days

The first part of our unit is all about how commercial designs come together.  While many residential designs are based on wood frame construction, commercial designs have to be much stronger and so are often made of concrete, steel, or aluminum.  Here you’ll learn about different commercial construction techniques.

PART 2: Land Use & Regulation

(20 pts)  About 3 days

The second part of our unit looks at how to combine what we learned about load analysis with what we know about concrete strength.  These ideas come together as we do the math to design footings for large scale buildings.  Footing act like very focused foundations for potentially massive buildings, and good design will keep a building standing!


(40 pts)  About 3 days

Now, we finally get to jump back into Revit and do some redesigning for the “Keystone Library”.  This project will continue through the next unit as you think about how to improve the layout and energy efficiency of an old library.  These same ideas will come back as you and your design team tackle our biggest project of the semester starting in Unit 10!

PART 1: Commercial Design

How commercial buildings are put together!

The start to this unit is all about the framework that is used to design and build large-scale commercial buildings.  We’ll start by looking at commercial framing systems, before moving on to investigate commercial floor design as well as commercial walls.  You should keep in mind the similarities and differences between these commercial systems and the wood frame building systems used last semester for residential design.

As we get this unit started, we’ll begin with some notes on these structures before we move into the Revit work in the next part!


 Use your engineering notebook and take a page of notes on Commercial Framing, Commercial Floors, and Commercial Walls.  Make sure that your notes include

 Brainstorm different things that could go into a cool new library.  Make it a nice long list so you have lots of ideas to fuel your new library redesign!

 Use your engineering notebook to make two bubble diagrams for how a library could be laid out.  

 Open up the Revit Keystone Library File and start looking at the size of the available space.  Consider available space and the ideas you had during your brainstorm.  Make a sketch of how you think elements of your library could come together to renovate the old Keystone Library buiding

Commercial Framing

Commercial Floors

Commercial Walls

What’s Due In Commercial Design Part 1: Commercial Design

  • Commercial Design Notes
  • Brainstorming
  • Bubble Diagrams
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Commercial Design

  1.  Notes on Framing, Floors, and Walls in commercial design
  2. Library concept brainstorm!
  3. Library layout bubble diagrams
  4.  Have Benshoof check-off your Revit design

PART 2: Land Use & Regulations

Thinking through the requirements of land use regulations

Example Zoning Map

Keystone Library Revit File


One of the things that civil engineers & architects need to worry about is what kind of building they want to build in a specific location.  City planners have the job of figuring out which parts of the community are best for commercial businesses, residential homes, or industrial manufacturing.  City planners then zone (or designate) certain areas in town to those specific functions.  When civil engineers want to design a new building, they need to make sure it meets the various rules and regulations specific to that type of zoning!

In this part of the unit you’ll take some notes on zoning and the various regulations associated with types of land use.  After that, you’ll look up some of the zoning specifications here in Fairbanks before getting your first real start on the Keystone Library redesign!


 Use your engineering notebook and take a page of notes on Land Use & Planning as well as Land Use Regulations.  

 The city of Fairbanks has a website that lists various zoning in town.  Find and print this map for your notebook.  Then, identify the locations of 5 houses (yours and people you know), as well as 5 businesses and 5 public buildings.  Indicate what type of zoning each of those structures falls in. 

 Take a full page of notes on the Commercial Foundations presentation!

 Compete the short “Commercial Foundation Thinking Questions” in your engineering notebook!


Land Use & Planning

Land Use Regulations

Commercial Foundations

What’s Due In Commercial Design Part 2: Land Use & Regulations

  • Land Use Notes
  • Fairbanks Zoning Map
  • Keystone Library
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 2: Land Use & Regulations

  1.  Notes on land use and regulations
  2. Find & investigate the Fairbanks Zoning Map!
  3. Notes on commercial foundations
  4.  Have Benshoof check-off your careful drawing

PART 3: Keystone Library Part 1

Beginning the redesign of the old Keystone Library in Revit

Welcome back!  As part of the Lathrop Designs Architecture Studio, you’ve been asked to redesign the Keystone Library.  The shell of the original building is available (and all the corresponding structural elements are already in place), it’s your chance to take that shell and add/remove/redesign parts of it to make it a new, cooler library!  As you do this, you’ll need to build a library that has the following elements:

  1. A redesigned entrance
  2. At least 1 curtain wall
  3. A second floor
  4. A green roof seating area on the lower roof
  5. A children’s area
  6. Reading & book areas
  7. Computer terminals
  8. A small makerspace

Creating Walls

Creating the Second Story

Creating the Library Roof

What’s Due In Commercial Design Part 3: Keystone Library Part 1

  • Revit Design Notes
  • Keystone Library Plan
  • Doors & Walls
  • 2nd Floor & Roof
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Keystone Library Part 1

  1. Take notes on new functions in Revit from the videos
  2.  Download the Keystone Library File and decide where major walls and entrances will go
  3.  Create the doors and major walls of your library
  4.  Create the second floor and roofs of your library
  5.  Have Benshoof check-off your completed design

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline
The purpose of this unit is to use the Engineering Design Process to wire, design, and build a working Bug Bot.  You should have had the chance to do some soldering, design your own Bug Bot, and use the tools in our makerspace to build your Bug Bot.  If you were really on-task and working hard, you should have also had time to decorate your Bug Bot to make it look super cool.  By the unit deadline, you should have completed and be able to submit the following items:

Engineering Notebook:

 (Part 1) Definition of problem, criteria, constraints, and Bug Bot Overview notes

 (Part 1) Wiring diagram, soldering notes, and wiring reflection

 (Part 2) Bug Bot Design brainstorm, notes, and careful drawing

 (Part 3) Final drawing/picture, half-page written reflection on Bug Bots

Building & Making:

 (Part 1) Wiring should work, soldering should be clean and complete

 (Part 2) Bug Bot design should be carefully drawn out including labels and diagrams

 (Part 3) The Bug Bot should be assembled and should function properly

Benshoof Checkpoints

 (Part 1) Benshoof should have seen your working wiring before you moved on

 (Part 2) Benshoof should have seen your careful drawing before you moved on

 (Part 3) Benshoof should have seen your working Bug Bot