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Typical Industrial Building - Part 1 

Typical Industrial Building

Most small to medium-sized industrial, general purposes buildings offer similar features and characteristics. For example, a free-standing structure typically includes both a main industrial area and an office area. The industrial area must have a single floor with clear height typically between 16 and 25 feet, or higher if required., a poured concrete slab-on-grade floor (6” or greater thickness depending on need) a steel frame roof using open we steel joists (OWSI), a built-up roof with stone ballast, steel strip windows, metal doors and overhead doors for loading docks. The office area is typically 15 to 20% of total industrial area and is either contained within the building (along with a mezzanine level about the standard height office ceiling) or extends out from the primary structure (sometimes referred to as a box on box design).

Floor, wall and ceiling finishes will vary, but at the basic level would include sealed concrete floors in the industrial area, with vinyl or ceramic tile for the office. Interior partitions would normally be drywall on metal studs, along with acoustic ceiling tile. Heating would probably be gas fried radiant tube heating, with a separate roof top heating/cooling unit for the office area. Lighting is typically metal halide high bay fixtures for the industrial area, fluorescent fixtures for the office and high intensity discharge (HID) fixtures for exterior perimeter lighting. The main service would involve a 3 phase incoming service with a step-down transformer. Three phase incoming service is required for larger motors usual to industrial needs.

Selected Features/Characteristics

Selected terminology relating to features/characteristics of industrial properties are highlighted alphabetically.


A bay is an unfinished area located between a row of columns and the bearing wall. A bay is usually; the smallest area into which a building floor can be partitioned. Bay depth refers to the distance from the bearing wall to a row of columns within a building, or the distance from one row of columns to another.

Bay depth is an important consideration in the layout of office, retail and industrial buildings. In retail office leasing, the term takes on a precise meaning when referring to bay measurements in the construction or outfitting of office space. The bay depth refers to the measurement from the inside wall (tenant’s side) of a corridor wall to the exterior wall or glad. Bay depth is important in deriving the most efficient use of space, as is bay height.



The span refers to the amount of floor area that is clear of interference from columns and support walls, and is also of importance to industrial users. The extent of clear span is particularly key to industrial operations including manufacturing, warehouse, distribution and storage facilities. An excellent example of a large clear span, steel building is a modern airport hanger.

Clear height refers to the unobstructed distance from floor to ceiling. Light industrial and warehouse facilities normally range between 15 and 30 feet clear height.


        The ability to install one or more cranes for lifting and moving heavy items is vital to many industrial users. Cranes are generally classifies in one of three categories for industrial purposes.

Bridge crane: Operates on a system of horizontal rails and requires column-free areas within the structure. Bridge cranes (often several operating in sequential order) can work on a series of related tasks by moving the product along the work floor.

Gantry crane: Best d4escribed as a portable bridge crane operating on wheels, can be moved about the work floor area or in outside yard areas. The word gantry refers to the framework making up the crane.

Jib crane: Has an arm attached at an angle to a rotating mast that permits 360⁰ swiveling around that mast. In many instances, the jib crane is attaches to a structural column in the building that restricts the swivel to a half circle.