Part of drawing up architectural plans is deciding on the right materials for the job. Materials are crucial because they determine the longevity of a building as well as how it looks and feels to those who use it. When an architect is creating apartment complex plans, choosing the right materials allows the buildings to withstand a multitude of tenants, frequent moving in and out as well as the unpredictable stresses of storms and wind.
Most of today’s apartment complexes begin with a poured concrete or slab-on-grade foundation. Concrete has excellent strength that meets or exceeds most building codes. It is also stable, providing firmness and uniformity. It usually doesn’t shift or crack. Even if the soil around it moves, the overall structure of the building remains strong. Cracked concrete foundations can also be repaired and stabilized, if necessary.
Concrete can also withstand fire and is resistant to water damage, which happens frequently in apartment complexes with so many plumbing pipes and fittings.
Architects have traditionally called for wood framing in their plans for smaller buildings. However, more commercial building designers than ever before are calling for structural steel for durability and rigidness of multistory dwellings. The high-rise buildings that form most city skylines would be impossible without steel structures and reinforcement. Additionally, steel is increasingly being used as an exterior wall covering material because of its durability, modern look, and beauty.
Structural steel is a sensible choice for many building types because it’s cost-effective, quick and easy to install, simple to adapt in the future, and can be reused or recycled at the end of the building’s life. Steel mills today use an average of 90 percent recycled materials.
Finishing an apartment complex involves materials in addition to concrete, wood, and steel. Plastic is now common in building surfaces, and so is stone, brick, glass, and even textiles in some instances. Bamboo and carbon fiber are gaining acceptance as building materials in some places. The trend is toward renewable, sustainable materials as well as those that can be repurposed or reinvented when their original lives are over.
As an architect draws up plans for an apartment complex, they have a wide range of materials they can specify. Concrete, steel, and wood are materials that have proven themselves across a range of building types and remain reliable choices of the building industry.