CASE STUDY methodology - practice software question #17 (PARKING)



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    Kristen Charters

    I believe that is how the parking is calculated. In my experience with mixed use buildings outside of NCARB, that is how I have calculated parking as well. When I've done theater parking calculations before, it was done by seating as the overall building falls under the "Assembly" occupancy group. Usually loading/staging isn't counted towards parking. A lot of the spaces that you wrote down are support spaces which would have minimal, if any, parking requirements. They all support the event space.

    In reality, you must provide the minimum number of parking spaces required by zoning-but it doesn't stop you from providing more. But be aware that the developer/client may not be able or want to provide more than the minimum-whether that is for cost or space or site issues that you as the architect may not be aware of.

    Don't overthink the question. Even though the scenario does provide some examples of what the space will be used for, the only number that matters is what is required by zoning. And zoning doesn't care if the event space will be a theater or an arena or restaurant-the zoning ordinance has to cover a lot of uses in just a few (comparatively) use groups.

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    Jonathan Chertok (Edited )

    hi kirsten.

    thanks for your input as always. i quite enjoy the conversation but also the help!

    i think this has been discussed elsewhere and others have conceded the question is confusing.

    the problem i have (and the reason i point it out) is that some of these questions have a massive amount of cognitive dissonance. some are so perfectly imprecise that you would have to be king solomon to determine which answer to select in order to best fulfill the "owner's preferences" (for instance). in some cases - such as the pick the best waterfront development site - there are four goals to fulfill in the question with vaguely "linked" variables for /some/ these goals in an imprecise (and incomplete) drawing. you can only realistically fulfill two of the goals and you almost have to know what the grader considers a "view" or "landscape" or "exposure" or "compatibility" (or whatever) in order to fulfill just the goals.

    and for what it is worth, i am not pointing this out to "harp" on it but rather to help professional candidates - many of whom state they are having a terrible time with this or that exam. /teasing/ out the logic i think is helpful for these candidates.

    in this specific case i think there is a massive amount of cognitive dissonance. the candidate has no visuals to attach any understanding to except a MASSIVE program with all sorts of extraneous data. then (if you can find it in a timely manner casting about in the interface) you are left with various square footages, various functions, a seating capacity (and a "parking by seating" requirement) and a word salad:

    "Event Center" (the Development)

    "Main Event Space" (a function within the Program)

    "Theater, Auditorium, Arena or Stadium" (Zoning category)

    at that point - presumably - you have to take the (massive) development /function/ ("Event Center"), link it to Zoning Category of "Theater, Auditorium, Arena or Stadium" (in itself a bit of a logical leap of faith many practitioners would be leery of making), and do some kind of Escheresque move where you then link this Zoning Category back to the (presumably) main use of the Event Center development (the "Main Event Space"), which the Program specifically seems to go out of its way to state has way more uses than a simple arena, stadium, theater or auditorium (if it even fits into any of them).

    alternatively you have to take a function within the Program (the "Main Event Space") - filter it through the Program - and go directly to the "Theater, Auditorium, Arena or Stadium" (which i would argue is an incorrect approach). it's like if i am developing a Hotel and i see in the zoning that it says there is a parking requirement for number of Hotel rooms and i ignore the three banquet halls and the penthouses and the 1,000 person capacity open air multi-function space.

    neither of these approaches is logical to me without further thoughtful deliberation even within the context of often extremely illogical zoning requirements.

    i mean, i think saying "don't overthink the question" for a lot of candidates is really frustrating to hear because it think many of these questions are beyond logic. they involve a kind of "selective fact gathering" that many professional candidates find not only counter-intuitive but counter to their education and training.

    again, i don't mean to be critical necessarily but i think it is of massive importance to many candidates to get some kind of honest dissection that they can wrap their heads around. 

    with regards

    <edit: all of which presumes that a candidate has some experience with these kind of "macro" commercial development issues which many candidates don't have and many may never have...>

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    Kristen Charters


    No worries-you aren't being overly critical. I often forget that I have experience with commercial development which many people don't have experience with. I'm sorry if I came across as being harsh or condescending because of that.

    I agree that a lot of the questions on the exam are vague and it can often be hard to understand precisely what is being asked. As you pointed out the waterfront development question definitely has several threads where other candidates have spent hours trying to dissect it. However, for the case studies, remember that there is a lot of extraneous information given to the candidate and it isn't necessary to use all of the information.

    Ok-let me see if I can break the problem down in a better way.

    I think the most important thing to start with is what is to figure out the primary use of the space. It's an event center which as you pointed out is super vague. So to get a better grasp on it, I look at the scenario which states that "the primary use is men's and women's basketball games". It also states that visitors must be served by the customary amenities found in assembly facilities such as a main concourse, restrooms, concessions, retail, etc. Therefore, everything on that list is a space that supports the main event space where the basketball games occur. From these two statements, I can deduce that this program will be an assembly space-specifically one for basketball games (an arena/stadium). 

    Parking requirements are found in zoning ordinances (since they vary by town/city). Therefore I go to the zoning ordinance and under parking, the only one that fits the primary use is #13 (Theater, Auditorium, Arena or Stadium) which states that there is 1 space required for every 4 seats.

    Since the number of seats isn't in the scenario, it must be under program elements as that information would probably not be on a site plan, in a geotechnical report or in the building code. And then under program elements, the main event space will seat 5,000 people in fixed seats. Then as you said, divide the total number of seats by 4 to get a total of 1250 parking spaces.

    Hope this helps,


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    Jonathan Chertok (Edited )

    hey! no problems. thanks for taking the time to respond so coherently (as always) and also for taking the time to be so specific with respect to the actual problem set.
    i expect (or at least hope) that this post may be very helpful to future professional candidates (which is why i started it) but it won’t be from my input (it will be from yours).
    i think i tend to agree with your analysis.
    what i would just point out is that this kind of analysis would most likely be done by a project /lead/ quite possibly in consultation with other team members (and even zoning officials at the city). and it wouldn't be done in a timed exam in an interface that some find difficult to navigate.
    also, when you “complexify” the problem with vague and “flexy” terms like Event Center or Event Space (why not just say Theatre as you did which is quite straightforward) and then bury the lead (by saying it is an Assembly Occupany) somewhere in the mountain of data - AND add all kinds of extraneous language about all manner of things - you add a degree of cognitive dissonance that has nothing to do with testing your architectural skill regarding a specific topic.
    i often come back to the notion of a non-native speaker taking these exams and i’m simultaneously shocked by the notion that anyone can pass them - only to also have this vague notion that maybe by NOT being a native english speaker it is actually easier.
    when i talk to people the common refrain i get is “why not just ask me a direct question”. or as another poster in another thread put it - “half the battle is just trying to figure out what they are asking you”.
    i mean, i still have questions i have been asked where i can’t either figure out what is trying to be represented in a drawing, what the question is trying to ask, how on earth i am supposed to make a determination between two equally correct answers (without knowing what is considered correct) - or it is some completely random fact that i don’t even think belongs in the category i am testing in - and no human being could determine it is necessary to know from the guidelines. actually - OR, the topic has been "reductified" to a point of unintelligibility so that unless you actually study this "reducted" version you won't have even a fighting chance of interpreting it.
    sorry. i just feel very strongly that i have competent professional colleagues that have had tremendous difficulty getting through 4.0/5.0 (at great expense) and i think it is important to dissect some of these to the point that they feel better about where they stand.

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    David Kaplan


    I actually agree with you, it is slightly confusing, and it would have been better if NCARB had worded the question as "how many parking stalls are required for the Event Space?"  That way, you know that they're just asking about the large event auditorium only and not the entire building.

    You are correct that in the real world you have to take into account parking for the entire building, not just one space.  Best I can tell you is that although this practice exam isn't worded so well, I don't believe you're going to encounter this type of confusion on the actual ARE.  When I took the tests and had questions like that, it was clear as day if they were asking about just one component vs. the entire building, and I did in fact have a question that required me to look at all spaces and not just one.  And, vice versa too. 

    Hope this helps.  Chock this one up to poor wording on NCARB's part.  Truly.

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