Benefits of Podium Design for Your Hotel

Today I’ll explain how developers utilize wood in podium construction to increase both the area and density for new-build projects.

What is Podium Design?  

  • Podium design consists of a 1- or 2-story concrete (reinforced or post tension) podium that allows several stories of light-frame wood framing above it. This design is increasingly becoming a common practice among architects and developers.
  • Podium construction works best for 5- to 7-story hotels where it is typically more economical and faster to build than block and plank construction. This height typically allows the project to avoid high-rise construction as well. (How to tell if your project is high rise?)
  • The technical reference to a podium building can be made as 4-over-1 (i.e., 4 stories over a 1-story podium), 5-over-2 (i.e., 5 stories over a 2-story podium), and so on.

What are the Benefits?

  • The International Building Code allows the podium level to serve as a separation between two different building types. This rule means a construction type, such as wood, can be built higher than typically allowed by code.
  • A podium model can be very efficient for hotels as the ground floor of a hotel is where the large, open, common space typically is located. To achieve necessary span lengths, these areas require heavier non-wood framing, such as steel or concrete, and makes the design one step closer to a podium anyway.
    • To read more on how to build wood-framed hotel, read our Part 1; Part 2 and Part 3 series.
  • In addition, a podium is required when a building has different occupancy types between floors.
    • For example, if a project has parking on the ground floor beneath guestrooms, a Type I podium will be required to provide the necessary fire separation between floors.
  • Podiums can be utilized on sites with heavy grade changes as the below-grade portion can act as a retaining wall.
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