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Architect's responsibility for egress routes

  • 1.  Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-17-2021 05:00 PM
    I'm looking for input on an Architect's responsibility for determining whether appropriate egress routes are available from occupied areas of a building during a renovation and expansion project in adjacent areas. Would the Architect be responsible for determining whether the project as designed has eliminated necessary egress routes, and, if so, responsible for designing and documenting temporary egress routes? Would this be an additional service? The B101-2007 document does not seem to address this question. 
    d'Andre Willis, AIA, LEED AP

  • 2.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-21-2021 11:03 AM
    The short answer is "Yes". This is a Life Safety issue.
    If there is an incident on your project, everyone goes to court; and everyone will pay.
    As the Architect, you will need to know how your project impacts adjacent spaces and make provisions for any egress changes, both permanent or temporary.  During renovation, egress paths within the renovation area change several times due to the nature of a renovation.  The Architect needs to confirm with the Contractor and the Client/Owner the egress routes within the renovation area every time the egress routes change.

    Michael Clark AIA


  • 3.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-21-2021 01:43 PM
    Hi d'Andre,

    I concur with Michael's response to your question. I have worked on several commercial interior remodels on multi-tenant floors within mid-rise and high-rise buildings. You need to understand the existing egress systems on that floor and the their capacities in order to understand the limitation to the proposed design or before you design a space. For example, you are limited to 500 occupants when you have 2 exits (please refer to the IBC or local building code on this), you might bust the egress capacity if you design several conference rooms or other assembly areas within your project. The occupants of those areas still need to exit through the existing egress doors and stairs. There is also the exit separation issue and the common path of travel which will inform/impact floor plan design. These all need to be checked since it's part of the life safety system of the facility. 


    Daniel Guich, AIA, LEED ap, CDT
    Studio Converge

  • 4.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-22-2021 05:28 PM

    Sent from my T-Mobile 5G Device

  • 5.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-24-2021 01:29 PM
    The architect is responsible to define the temporary ingress/egress. On a recent urban higher education project I had to plan for temporary routes on two adjacent buildings. The demolition plans identified the modified building exit points and the paths. The paths also had to shift during the demo and renovation work.

    The notes on the drawings defined the performance required for protection.  This included physical protection from falling objects as well as temporary lighting, fire protection and signage.  We had descriptive information on the drawings to where the Contractor was able to apply a cost and manage the temporary pathways.  I also incorporated information into the Division 01 and 02 specifications. It as also an agenda topic at the Pre-Bid Meeting.  Signage and notices to students and faculty was a critical factor to inform them when pathways shifted. It was successful.

    Michael Katzin, AIA | NCARB | City of Johns Creek Planning Commissioner
    Michael Katzin Project Services, LLC
    Johns Creek, GA

  • 6.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-23-2021 08:45 AM

    I clearly agree that this is a life safety factor, and is critical to be worked out ahead of time.  But does this fall under "means and methods" of the construction phase, which we have been taught never to interfere with?  Are we actually putting ourselves at more risk by determining it?  I honestly don't know.  Any construction lawyers or liability insurance agents have any direct experience with this?


    Best Regards,


    John Crowell

    Deer Hill Architects LLC

    40 Lowell Street, Suite 12

    Peabody MA 01960



  • 7.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-23-2021 06:16 PM
    Review the AHJ for the adoption of the International Existing Building Code.
    Depending on the level of restoration or addition the IEBC does address exiting requirements. 
    If not adopted, this would be a good guide. 

    Vincent M. Territo AIA

    Sent from my T-Mobile 5G Device

  • 8.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-23-2021 06:42 PM

     I misread the question. I apologize
     I have worked on a 4 story multi family project Constructed and occupied in phases. I worked with the AHJ to resolve existing issues. 
     All phases were required to comply with exiting requirements at all levels.

    Sent from my T-Mobile 5G Device

  • 9.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-27-2021 06:33 PM
    I agree with most of the respondents that requiring the maintenance of compliant egress paths during renovation of an occupied building is the Architect's responsibility.  One can accomplish this in multiple ways.  If phase demarcations are clearly defined, then one can be highly specific about the scope of the temporary work, showing it on the drawings as part of phasing plans and specifying it under some section like Temporary Facilities.  If the phase demarcations are less clear and will be subject to the contractor's strategy, you can specify performance requirements and require that the contractor provide a egress plan for approval. 
    I would not consider defining the need for temporary means of egress as encroaching on the contractor's means and methods any more than requiring phases in the first place is.  We recently completed a large multi-phase re-skin of an occupied high-rise in which the entire temporary building enclosure was fully shown and specified.  Leaving this to the contractor as a matter of means and methods would not have satisfactorily protected our client.  Our specifications actually contain many protective directions with respect to the contractor's methods - think of things like prohibiting the use of hammering devices for demolition in certain circumstances.  I would place this issue in that category.
    As to whether this is an additional service, it really depends on when the need for phasing and multiple egress schemes arose.  If the need was know at the time of the proposal, I would tend to consider this work a part of basic services.  If you are in a competitive environment and are worried about it, you might want to ask this question during Q&A to level the playing field.  If the need evolves during the design and was not originally anticipated, I would feel justified in asking for additional fees depending, of course, on the complexity of the effort and size and scope of the job.

    John Kohlhas AIA
    Principal, Director of Operations
    Philadelphia PA

  • 10.  RE: Architect's responsibility for egress routes

    Posted 09-28-2021 09:24 AM
    Edited by Nicholas Holt AIA 09-28-2021 09:31 AM
    This frequently seems to get complicated, but it doesn't have to be.  The conceptual hurdle is that it is means and methods, but it is also life safety and requires a design professional to be involved.  In my experience, sometimes that design professional was us, via the Owner as an additional service.  I've also seen jobs where the CM/GC hired their own design professional, usually a sole/small practitioner who had a lot of experience with this kind of work, as it was much more nimble for the contractor (with the approval of the AHJ of course).  I should note that these were usually larger jobs and the egress routes were often changing fast given there were several zones/phases of work going at once - but I think the basic principles can apply to many job scales.  My advice - make note of this in your fee proposals as a separate hourly fee or add service as it is often too hard to predict and quantify the effort when contracts are being signed.  It's also a great question to add to your list in GC/CM scope reviews (will they hire their own DP for this?) if you get the opportunity.  Then the conversation can unfold when the time is right...and unpleasant surprises are I am sure you are aware, this can turn into A LOT of work that sucks up your CA fee quickly if you don't have it sorted out early.

    Nicholas Holt AIA
    Holt Architecture, PLLC
    Etna NH