Guidelines & Requirements for Studio Structures





Updated May 31st, 2022


Studio renters at Artisans Asylum have the option to build structures in their spaces.  Structures are not required, but when they are constructed they must conform to our guidelines for reasons of safety including conformance to building codes. This document contains those guidelines; it is subject to change from time to time.

The purpose of a structure is to enhance the studio space as a place for doing the work of an artisan.  Hence, its design should reflect the particular type or types of work to be done there. Creating a structure requires money and effort, so one should consider carefully whether a structure is really necessary.  Makers who elect to build structures are encouraged to create designs that will not only help them work more comfortably and efficiently but that also reflect their own unique styles. For some useful design feature suggestions, please see the document Studio Structure Archetypes.



Studios are constructed by Artisans Asylum and may not be disassembled or altered in any way without prior consultation with and agreement from Artisans Facilities and Operations team. Existing studios consist of 8’ x ½” x 4’ Sande Plywood walls joined and anchored to the floor by 4” x 4” x 4’ posts. Exterior (hallway) posts are securely anchored into the concrete floor. The assembly has a 4”-wide hardwood runner to cap the surface.



  1. The maximum total height of a structure (including stored items) is 10 feet.
  2. A structure may cover all or only part of the studio floor area.
  3. A structure may not overhang the studio boundary (walls) in any direction.
  4. The top of the structure may not be enclosed; apart from 18-inch shelves as part of the overhead structure, there must be no obstruction to the ceiling above the studio. 
  5. Shelf construction is permitted; assembly must account for weight requirements.
  6. The top shelf within a structure may not be higher than 8 feet off the floor.
  7. If a studio uses its top surface for storage, a  double rail must be added that rises at least 2 feet. This total height cannot exceed 10 feet.



Please observe safe construction practices when building your structure. Always have a buddy around when carrying out work above floor level and wear protective clothing. Do not work while under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

  1. The construction type must be entirely free-standing
  2. No leaning on or attachment to building walls or studio partitions
  3. No attachment to the floor, including anchors, glues, etc.

Construction: Framing

  1. Structures may be built of wood, metal, or a combination of both
    • No plasterboard (drywall) may be used
    • Fabric is allowed for curtains or decorative treatment
  2. Wood frame corner posts must be no less than nominal 4”x4” cross-section. Doubled 2”x4”s are allowed, provided they are fastened together and level.
  3. Metal frame corner posts must be no less than 1.5”x1.5” section, ⅛” wall thickness. Welded footplate contacts with the floor are preferred.
  4. Fastening methods may include wood joinery, screws, nuts and bolts, commercial angle irons of various types, and the like. Nails or gang nails are prohibited.
    • Washers are recommended for nuts and bolts.
    • Flat screws with square or star drive heads are recommended for wood screws.

Construction: Built-in shelving

  1. General guidelines
    • Shelf material may be sheet metal, metal rack, solid wood, or plywood, 
    • Particle board (Sande Plywood and other composites at least 7/16” thick) may be used for shelving provided that a sturdy framework is provided.
    • Use steel reinforcing brackets on structural joints where weight may be excessive.
    • Shelves must be supported from below and not suspended.
  2. Long-term storage shelving
    • Mounted to framing, located maximum between 8 feet above the floor
    • Projects 18 inches or less into structure interior
    • Usage notes:
      • The top of stored items cannot exceed 10 feet.
      • Stored items such as bins may not be stacked more than two items tall if they are off the ground.
      • Individual items stored off the floor may not exceed 18 gallons of volume.
  3. Convenient access shelving
    • Mounted to framing, located less than 8 feet above the floor
    • Projects 18 inches or less into the structure interior if more than 4 feet above the floor
  4. Built-in desk and table surfaces less than 4 feet above the floor, and shelves beneath them, maybe wider than 18 inches  IF:
    • They do not impede firefighter access
    • Provide a path 36 inches wide with 96-inch height clearance.
    • Use of renter-provided folding (step) ladders is preferred for access to long-term storage.  Built-in ladders are subject to approval.



          Please observe the following general guidelines as you develop your plans for a studio structure at Artisans Asylum:

          Note on free-standing shelving, storage:

          1. Pallet racks or unistrut (slotted) channel shelving may be used in 50 sq ft studios provided that the shelf depth does not exceed 18” and the height of the top shelf does not exceed 8’.
          2. Use of pallet racks or unistrut channel shelving with shelf depths greater than 18” in a 100 sq ft studios or larger is subject to approval by facilities.
          3. Structural strength and stability
          4. The structure must be able to support the loads of stored items and any attached substructures, and resist pushing or pulling by a person, without significant deformation or any indication of looseness. 
          5. If the studio is located on a corner, the exposed structure post at the corner must be mounted with sufficient rigidity to the rest of the structure to prevent its being kicked out.

          General safety

          1. Shelves are for storage only, not for walking or standing, and should be designed accordingly.
          2. Prevent exposed sharp edges.
          3. No projections (such as beam ends) at a height less than 7 from the floor.
          4. Electrical power
            • Plug strips may be affixed to the structure using product-specific hardware attachments only.
            • They may not be attached to studio partitions
            • Power strips must have built-in overload protection. 
            • They may only be plugged into dedicated outlets; no cascaded (daisy-chained) power strips are allowed.
          5. Accessibility
            • A firefighter must be able to enter the studio and turn around in full firefighting gear.  This requires a 36-inch wide clear path width.
            • Doorway, if there is one, must be at least 36 inches wide and 84 inches high
            • Entry doors are not allowed
            • Curtains are acceptable
          6. Visibility
            • Curtains excepted, it must be possible to see into the structure from the aisle from the front and at least one side.
            • Solid walls more than 4 feet above the floor are allowed on the back wall and one side wall only.
            • No obstruction of building features required by code:
              • Exit signs
              • Fire warning lights
              • Fire alarms
              • Other as required
          7. Sprinkler heads for fire control require a 3-foot diameter hemispherical clearance area.  Therefore, apart from 18-inch shelves as part of the overhead structure, there must be no obstruction to the ceiling above the studio area. Suspending items across the shelves overhead is not allowed.
          8. Special accommodations may be made for members with mobility challenges.  The facilities director can provide guidance and help coordinate assistance in such cases.



            1. Structure plan drawing(s) must be approved by the Facilities & Art Director; it may also be reviewed by the Studio Construction Team, the Safety Team, and Executive Director prior to construction.
            2. Quantitative strength/stability analysis
              1. Fastening methods accounted for
              2. Predicts that the structure will safely support loads
            3. Full physical inspection
              1. Strength test - maximum shelf loads per design, frame rigidity, and stability under applied lateral and vertical loads
              2. Structure is within all dimensional limits
              3. Proper construction details - shelf supports, frame joints 
              4. Proper assembly of any free-standing shelving
                1. legs are not damaged or bent
                2. unloaded structure does not wobble 
              5. Appropriate materials, including fasteners
              6. Accessibility
              7. Visibility
              8. General safety



            The following checklist is by no means exhaustive, but should prompt a thorough review of a structured design prior to submission for approval.  It addresses some of the more critical design aspects.

            1. Considering the location of the studio in the building, will the structure obstruct any safety features such as exit signs, fire warning lights, or alarms?
            2. Does the structure design consider all the types of work anticipated?
            3. Are the loads assumed in the quantitative strength analysis realistic, given the work anticipated?
            4. Does the physical arrangement of the interior make sense ergonomically, such as work table height, cabinet doors located above work surfaces, and space for chairs?
            5. Is the storage that the structure offers adequate?
            6. Is the frame rigid in all directions through the use of bracing or appropriate joint hardware?
            7. Are the built-in shelves, if any, properly supported from below?
            8. Are all details of fastening specified in the design?
            9. Is there at least a 36-inch wide clear walking path within the structure for firefighter access?
            10. Does the structure adhere to all the dimensional rules, especially an open-top except for 18-inch storage shelf, and an entranceway at least 36 inches wide and 84 inches high?