Strategies for Safer Designs: Event Spaces

One of the most challenging spaces to design is event rooms. These multi-use rooms need to be able to accommodate a wide variety of functions, which can make architects and building owners wish they had a crystal ball during the design process.

But when it comes to creating a successful event space, you need to consider more than possible use and aesthetics: You need to consider the safety of the occupants as well. Let’s take a look at a few strategies to ensure that your event space is not only prepped for success but designed for safety.

Design Considerations: Accessibility and Egress

In order for a building’s design to be successful, it should stay relevant to the needs of the community that’s using it. When it comes to an event space that’s used by a large variety of people, the needs and requirements of that space will vary as well.

Besides being compliant with American Disabilities Act requirements, which ensure access to the space for people with disabilities, architects should also consider how people will exit the building.

The 2018 version of the International Building Code includes requirements for egress from a space, and if you’re designing an event facility that accommodates a large amount of visitors, you’ll also need to consider what local codes require based on the occupant load of the space.

And if the building is older, it might not meet current egress requirements. The building might be functional, but if it’s a historic structure, it might need additional solutions for fire or smoke containment.

For example, the Cliff House is a historic home in Ogunquit, Maine, and was first opened in 1872. The iconic hotel and event space has seen thousands of guests over the years and was renovated in 2016 to accommodate the increasing amount of visitors.


When renovating, they found that the historic home needed additional smoke and fire protection. To increase the safety of visitors, they included the installation of a Smoke Guard perimeter curtain, which enabled designers to protect a two-story communicating staircase without compromising on space or adding corner posts in the remodel.

Design-Forward Safety Strategies

Event spaces also need to meet the demand for style. Whether your facility hosts award events, anniversary parties or work conferences, you want to make a great impression on guests and visitors so they’ll keep coming back to use the space.

But don’t worry: You can still wow them with gorgeous design while being code compliant.

Smoke and fire curtains offer a versatile solution for event facilities and multi-functional spaces. The curtains can be retrofitted and installed discreetly over openings, in front of elevators and stairwells or across lobbies. Some products, like Smoke Guard’s M600 Smoke Curtain, are fully customizable which allows it to safely seal any size opening.

These curtains are design-friendly as remain out of sight when they’re not in use. For many older buildings, this is a great solution if a new elevator lobby would interfere with your design or if you have a limited budget.

As fire protection engineer and author Douglas Evans points out, code-compliant safety doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style.

“In many cases, there’s an allowance that the code itself isn’t expected to address all applications,” says Evans. “So if it can be demonstrated that with the proposed approach (whether it’s a product or design) you’re providing at least the level of protection provided by the code, then the jurisdiction can approve it.”

Meet Standards for Sustainability

Your building should provide solutions for occupant safety that are accessible to all users and compliant with local building codes.

But more building owners and architects are looking for long-term fire and smoke containment solutions that also meet sustainability requirements.


Designers with Skanska were looking for a fire and smoke containment system for the construction of 400 Fairview, a mixed-use building in Seattle, Washington. The 14-story building features expansive, open space and offers flexible floor plans for retailers and business owners in urban Seattle.  

Architects needed a solution for fire safety in their design, but that solution would need to help them achieve LEED accreditation. Though they originally had a hard time finding a fire and smoke containment system for this multi-use building, the architects found Smoke Guard’s M3000 horizontal curtainand were able to help the project win LEED Gold status.

Smoke Guard’s products allow architects and designers to compartmentalize large spaces and atriums. The solution also drastically reduces the need for any additional mechanical smoke evacuation systems.

Achieve Safer, Successful Design

Architects and building owners face the challenge of creating event spaces that are both impressive and safe. By incorporating long-term strategies and considering the needs of building occupants and visitors, you can help ensure their safety and a successful event.

Learn even more about designing safer event spaces and specifying the best products for your building on our blog.