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Gems of Innovation: Ben Ferguson pioneers Tacoma Work-Live code amendments

Ben Ferguson, an architect with a passion for historic preservation recently worked with Oakland-based architect Tom Dolan, to propose new code amendments that encourage redevelopment of the City’s large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings.

Ben Ferguson, an architect with a passion for historic preservation recently worked with Oakland-based architect Tom Dolan, to propose new code amendments to encourage redevelopment of the City’s large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings.  “Work-live” is the inverse of more common “Live-work” codes that allow residents to operate a small business as a secondary use within their dwelling unit; with Work-Live, the business use is primary with residential use a secondary use.  The International Building Code allows Live-Work uses in R-2 occupancies but has no provision for residential accessory uses in commercial buildings, thus limiting the potential redevelopment of many well-suited structures. With Ben's help the City of Tacoma has codified amendments to their IBC that now allows work-live uses in commercial buildings.  These amendments provide greater certainty for property owners while improving life safety and increasing use of underutilized existing buildings.  We plan to work with Ben to highlight Work-Live examples in the Code Innovations Database in 2016, so we can empower innovators like him to redevelop downtown Tacoma for greater density, livability and sustainability!  Read the code amendments report here:  http://cms.cityoftacoma.org/planning/livework/blrbreport.pdf

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