With the stacked multifamily projects we have built, we have either had a structural steel or a concrete podium and retail, office or parking below. The apartments start above the podium, and wood framing is used if the over-all building height is less than 75 feet.
Regarding the wood framing, we have found it is important to remember the basics, starting with a seasoned structural engineer. For our current project, we are using LBYD, and my advice is to stay “connected at the hip” with the design structural engineer:
- It is critical that allowances for any mechanical systems are made within the stud walls during the design phase. It is better to upsize stud widths at times.
- We are using SYP over Spruce Pine Fir because SYP typically has about 50% more strength in compression parallel to grain.
- Brick veneer is typically limited to about 30’ at the base because of the difficulty in supporting the gravity load of brick from a wood frame.
- Beginning drywall at the top imposes the dead load on all the floors below, which in turn helps to give the building its “set,” preventing cracking down the road.