Bar Design Ideas – How to Design Commercial Bars for ADA

Cabaret Design Group

Confused about the ADA requirements for accessible bar design?

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In 5 minutes I’ll teach you the latest bar dimension standards for ADA compliance.


BAR DESIGN STANDARDS AND BAR DIMENSIONS FOR ADA COMPLIANCE

Why am I such a big proponent of designing commercial bars for ADA accommodations? The Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), passed in 1990, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Simply stated, ADA is a federal law! Hence, we encourage all our bar design clients to comply with the most-current, strictest ADA design specifications. The ADA regulations are very confusing. For one, it’s challenging for many design professionals to reference a single governing document on ADA compliant-code. Today I’m going to share these guidelines and some of my actual bar designs to help illustrate these ADA design ideas and solutions.

GENERAL DIMENSIONS FOR PLANNING ADA-COMPLIANT BAR DESIGN

The general dimensional criteria we use when designing ADA-compliant design for seating at commercial bars is as follows:

  • The required seating for built-in accommodations is computed as 5% of the total bar seating, but not less than one
  • 30” of width for each accommodation
  • 48″ of depth
  • 19″ of leg clearance from the finished faced of the bar
  • The bar top shall not be greater than 34” above the finished floor
  • The cross aisle to the rear of the accommodation cannot infringe on the 48″ envelope

THE DESIGN DETAILS FOR BUILT-IN ADA BAR SEATING

I can best illustrate the above-mentioned ADA dimensional clearances by showing you the following example, which can be downloaded below. Here you’ll notice that we provide a single ADA space (we refer to this as a “station”) – the same as every bar design. The space shown in Figure 1 (below) is 30” wide and if we look at the details of this in elevation and section views, you’ll notice that the height of the ADA countertop is set at 34” (maximum height) and that the outside edge of the ADA bar top is cantilevered 19” from the closest finish on the bar face.

Architectural drawing depicting proper design clearances for built-in stepped ADA bar accommodations
SKETCH DEPICTING DETAILS FOR BUILT-IN (STEPPED) ADA BAR SEATING ACCOMMODATIONS

THE TRICK TO INCORPORATING BUILT-IN ADA BAR SEATING IS THE BAR EQUIPMENT

What I just outlined is the easy part! The hard part of incorporating a pass-thru ADA design is adapting standard bar equipment to function within the 34″ height constraint. In commercial bar design we utilize every square inch of space, so we must develop a solution for modifying the equipment. Consider the following (refer to Figure 2, below):

  • In most instances we specify a 3 CM bar top and ¾” of plywood underlayment, which leaves us with just slightly greater than 32” of vertical clearance for the respective under bar equipment.
  • Most commercial under bar equipment is 37” tall, but certain components can be modified.
  • No doubt the cost will increase for one or two pieces, but making efficient use of the entire under bar space justifies this cost.
  • Most commercial bar sinks, drainboards and ice bins can be modified. We normally specify that the backsplash and legs be reduced by 3” each, so as to minimize back strain for the bartenders.
  • In order to beautify the ADA station, we’ll normally specify tall side panels from the same material we’re specifying for the bar.
  • To create a totally customized appearance, we specify that the end panels be 4” taller than the adjacent bar tops, which creates a way of trimming the upper bar, while also creating a backsplash.
Architectural drawing for alternate method of installing a pass-thru built-in ADA seating accommodations for bars

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROVIDING BUILT-IN ADA SEATING FOR COMMERCIAL BARS

Whether you’re remodeling your bar or embarking on a new construction project, you need to strongly consider adhering to the current ADA standards. It will be well-worth your effort to meet the most restrictive design standards for ADA bar design.

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My favorite reference book for architectural standards:
https://amzn.to/38q3piJ

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RELATED DOWNLOADS

ADA GUIDE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

ELEVATION_OF_COMMERCIAL_BAR_WITH_ADA_SEATING.jpg

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