Live-Work Planning and Design: Zero-Commute Housing
Buy Rights Online Buy Rights

Rights Contact Login For More Details

More About This Title Live-Work Planning and Design: Zero-Commute Housing


“Although the live-work concept is now accepted among progressive urban design and planning professionals, the specifics that define the term, and its application, remain sketchy. This encyclopedic work is sure to change that, providing the critical information that is needed by architects, planners and citizens.”

-Peter Katz, Author, The New Urbanism, and Planning Director, Arlington County, Virginia

Live-Work Planning and Design is the only comprehensive guide to the design and planning of live-work spaces for architects, designers, and urban planners. Readers will learn from built examples of live-work, both new construction and renovation, in a variety of locations. Urban planners, developers, and economic development staff will learn how various municipalities have developed and incorporated live-work within building codes and city plans. The author, whose pioneering website,, has been guiding practitioners and users of live-work since 1998, is the United States' leading expert on the subject.


THOMAS DOLAN is the principal of Thomas Dolan Architecture (TDA) in Oakland, California. An architect, landscape and urban designer, and development and code consultant, Dolan designed the first purpose-built live-work complex constructed in the United States. He was instrumental in the development of the live-work building code for the city of Oakland. Dolan is active in the Congress for the New Urbanism and is the founder of the pioneering website, which has been a resource for practitioners and users of live-work since 1998.


Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Chapter 1: Introduction: A Brief History and Description of Live-Work 1

The Modem and the Shipping Container 2

Zero Commute Living 4

Overview of Live-Work 5

Live-Work Types and Terminology 6

Live-Work Planning and Urban Design 6

The Role of Artists 7

Building Codes 7

Common Mistakes in Live-Work 8

Retrofitting Suburbia 8

Chapter 2: Defining Live-Work 10

Live-Work Use Types 11

Home Occupation 11

Live/Work 12

Work/Live 14

Live-Work Proximity Types 16

Live-With Proximity Type (Synonym: Loft) 17

Live-Near Proximity Type 17

Live-Nearby Proximity Type 18

Live-Work Project Types 19

Warehouse Conversion (District) 19

Home Office 20

Townhouse Project Type (Synonym: Shophouse) 21

Flexhouse Project Type: A Building that Learns 21

Courtyard Live-Work 22

Urban Loft Complex 23

High Density/Podium 24

Other Definitions Related to Live-Work 25

Lifestyle Loft (Synonym: Lawyer Loft) 25

Telecommuting 25

Telework Center (Synonym: Coworking) 25

Cohousing 25

Cohort Housing 26

Zero-Commute Living 26

Zero-Commute Housing 26

District 26

Neighborhood 26

Live-Work Neighborhood 27

New Urbanism 27

Smart Growth 27

Form-Based Coding 27

The Transect 27

Work-Use Intensities in Live-Work 28

Chapter 3: Designing Live-Work: Meeting Its Unique Needs 29

Genesis of Live-Work Design 29

User Needs and Live-Work Design 31

Project Types 34

Renovation versus New Construction 34

Rental versus For Sale 35

Artists’ Lofts versus “Lifestyle Lofts” 36

Work/Live and Home Occupation 36

Design Elements in Live-Work 37

Residential and Workspace Facilities 37

Level of Finishes in a Live-Work Unit 39

Accommodating and Relating to the Outside World 40

Employees 40

Walk-in Trade versus Client Visits by Appointment 40

Parking: Open Commercial Access versus Residential Privacy and Security 40

Design for Community 42

Making a Place That Is More than the Sum of the Number of Units 42

Common Residential Facilities 43

Coworking Space 43

Business Center 43

Other Common Work Facilities 43

Formal Community Types 44

Common Live-Work Unit Designs 44

Live-With Proximity Type 44

Live-Near Proximity Type 46

Live-Nearby Proximity Type 47

Other Unit Configurations 49

Development Types 49

Live- Work Renovation Development 49

Urban Infill Development 49

Greenfield Development 51

Design of Project Types 52

Project Type: Warehouse Renovation 52

Case Study: Willow Court 53

Case Study: Clocktower Lofts 55

Case Study: California Cotton Mills Studios 56

Project Type: Live-Work Courtyard Community 58

Case Study: South Prescott Village 59

Project Type: Flexhouse 59

Case Study: Serenbe 63

Case Study: The Waters 64

Case Study: Seaside 66

Case Study: Mount Laurel 67

Case Study: Hampstead 68

Case Study: Glenwood Park 68

Case Study: Pinetree Studios 69

The Urban Design of Townhouses and Flexhouses 71

Project Type: Housing over Retail and Live-Nearby 71

Case Study: Rosemary Beach 72

Case Study: Celebration 73

Project Type: Infill Lofts 73

Case Study: Yerba Buena Lofts 74

Project Type: Podium/High-Rise Liners, Flexhouses, and Lofts 75

Case Study: Liner Units at The Sierra 75

Chapter 4: The Market for Live-Work 77

Examining the Market for Live-Work 77

The End-User Market for Live-Work 78

The Developer/Investor Market for Live-Work 85

Case Study: The Lofts at Habersham 87

Marketing Live-Work 90

Norton Commons 90

The Basics of Marketing 91

Selling Live-Work 91

Marketing Materials 92

Marketing Communications 92

Conclusion 93

Chapter 5: Live-Work and Community: A Natural Marriage 94

Introduction Zero-Commute Living 95

Building Live-Work, Building Community: An Interview with Architect Thomas Dolan 96

Community Building with Live-Work 99

Neighborhood Scale 99

A Live-Work Neighborhood 100

A Complete Neighborhood 101

A Lifelong Community 101

Live-Work Building Types and Community 103

Design for Community in Multi-unit Live-Work Buildings 104

An Important Discovery: The Live-Work Courtyard Community 106

Case Study: Ocean View Lofts 107

Chapter 6: Live-Work Planning Issues and Regulatory Solutions 110

Introduction 111

Placemaking with Live-Work and Form-Based Codes 113

The Best Locations for Live-Work 118

Planning for Live-Work Types as Parsed by Work-Use Intensity 120

Home Occupation 120

Live/Work 121

Case Study: James Avenue Live-Work Compound 122

Work/Live 123

Planning for Live-Work Types as Parsed by Proximity Type 124

Live-With Proximity Type 124

Live-Near Proximity Type 125

Live-Nearby Proximity Type 127

Planning for Live-Work Types as Parsed by Project Type 128

Artists’ Work/Live Rental Renovation 128

Market Rate Live-Work Condominium Renovation 129

New Construction Lofts 130

The San Francisco Experience 130

Live-Work Courtyard Communities 133

Townhouse Live-Work 134

Flexhouse 134

Development Standards 136

Relaxed Development Standards 136

Work Uses Permitted 137

Employees and Walk-In Trade 137

New Construction versus Renovation 137

Separation of Functions 139

Maximum and Minimum Unit Size 139

Proportion of Live to Work Area 140

Open Space 140

Parking and Traffic 140

Loading 143

Noise and Odor Generation 143

Design Review 144

Inclusionary Zoning 144

Codes and Permitting Processes 144

Social Issues and Planning Responses 145

Warehouse Conversions and the SoHo Cycle 145

The New Urban Workplace 146

Rental versus Ownership 147

Imported NIMBYism and its Impact on Commercial and Industrial Districts 148

Residential Reversion 148

Work/Live in Vancouver 149

Disclosures, Covenants, Lease Clauses, and Nuisance Easements 149

Gentrification 150

Neighborhood Amenities 150

Neighborhood Revitalization 150

The Role of Artists in a City 151

Urban Live-Work Revitalization Stories 151

The Continuing Role of Artists and Others in the Evolution of Live-Work 154

Legalization of Illegal or Quasi-Legal Live-Work 156

Tribeca and Uptown: A Tale of Two Cities, Three Thousand Miles, and Forty Years Apart 156

Case Study: Dutch Boy Studios 160

Industrial Protection Zones 162

Do-It-Yourself Development 101, A Possible Scenario 163

Affordability 164

Compact, Pedestrian-Oriented Communities 165

Chapter 7: Live-Work Building Code Issues 167

Regulating This Strange Animal Called Live-Work 167

Overall Building Life Safety 168

Building Code Primer 169

Occupancy and Occupant Load Factor 168

Construction Type, Height, and Allowable Area 173

Wall Rating and Openings in Walls Near Property Lines 176

Exits/Means of Egress 177

Sprinklers 178

Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors 179

Hazardous Occupancy 180

Lateral Forces, Seismic Standards, and Change of Occupancy 181

Floor Loads 183

Codes That Apply within Live-Work Units 183

Fire Separation within a Unit 183

Separation between Units and between Units and a Corridor 184

Emergency Escape and Rescue 184

Mezzanines and Sleeping Lofts 185

Habitability Issues: Minimum Residential Facilities 189

Noise and Sound Transmission 195

Energy Conservation 196

Accessibility 197

Administrative Modification Requests 197

Shell Construction 198

Building Code Issues by Project Type 198

Townhouse 198

Flexhouse 199

Home Occupation 199

New versus Renovation 199

Master Building Code Matrix 199

Chapter 8: Epilogue 200

Appendix A: Toward a Model Live-Work Planning Code 202

Use of Appendix A Tables 202

Work Uses Permitted 202

Work Use Intensities and Allowable Unit Areas 202

Live-Work Location and Project Types 207

Walk-in Trade and Employees by Location and Project Type 207

Live-Work Planning Topics, Objectives and Suggested Regulations 207

Appendix B: Model Live-Work Building Code System 213

2009 International Building Code Section 419 213

Building Code Provisions Not Spelled Out in IBC

Section 419 213

Code Provisions that Apply in Live-Work Renovations

Only 219

Artists’ Relaxations 219

Legalization Process 221

Shell Construction 221

Mixed Occupancy 221

Use of the Model Live-Work Building Code

System 221

Appendix C: Live-Work Resources 223

Books 223

Web Sites 225

Endnotes 226

Index 227


"Dolan's book is an enormously knowledgeable guide to fitting work and living back together. It will be useful to architects, planners, builders, developers, and, most of all, urbanists." (, June 2012)