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United States

California Tower

Originally built in 1915 and currently housing the San Diego Museum of Man, California Tower is a part of the Balboa Park National Historic Landmark District. The building is ten stories above grade and atmospherically connected to the museum space on the first and second floors. The building is non-sprinkler protected Type II-B construction and did not undergo a change of use.

The California Tower is provided with a single means of egress from floors 3 through 10, and its existing historic stair comprises non-compliant width and tread depth. As such, the tower does not comply with CBC Section 1021, requiring at least two means of egress. The design team submitted an Application for Use of Alternate Materials & Methods with the City of San Diego utilizing CHBC Section 8-105.2. The City of San Diego requested a timed egress assessment to compare the performance of the proposed single stair with that of a compliant case with two stairs provided.

Holmes Fire assisted the design team by collaborating with ARG to successfully demonstrate that emergency egress from the subject building was comparative to a code compliant building. The time associated with occupant emergency movement via stairs was based upon calculations outlined in The SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering, Fourth Edition, Chapters 3-12 and 3-13.