How we planned and created a series of additions for a renowned Chesapeake Beach seafood restaurant

The problem:
In 2020, we were asked to design an addition to the Abner’s Crab House Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach. We went through many versions of the schematic design, with variations including: outdoor seating areas on the second floor; different designs for the bar and dining room areas; different restroom locations; and different levels of renovation of the first floor areas. 
As it often happens, the scope of the project changed as we moved through the process. We ended up designing a tenant fit-out for the existing second floor of the restaurant — which had been added years ago, but never finished or used for anything other than storage.  
Plus, another addition had been constructed at the north end of the restaurant building,   including a gaming room, elevator shaft, and staircase to the second floor. No elevator had ever been installed, and the second floor remained unused.
Click here to see the schematic designs we developed for the project:
The updated scope of the project included:
  • finishing the second floor, which would be used as a bar and dining room; and 
  • installing the new elevator.
There was another challenge — all of this work had to be done while the restaurant and gaming floors remained operating.  The program for the new second floor was extensive, including: a new elevator lobby, restrooms, office space, dining area, and bar area. Here is a link to photos of the conditions before we began work.
Our solution:
We first had to submit the construction/permit documents to the Town of Chesapeake Beach for review and approval. The owner had been working with the Town to fill in an existing basin adjacent to Fishing Creek and use the reclaimed property to expand and upgrade the parking lot for the marina and restaurant — so site plans had already been prepared by COA Barrett’s team of civil engineers for the property and parking lot for the restaurant.  
Working with the town officials, owner, and civil engineer, we determined the number of occupants that would be in the building once completed — using that number to determine the total number of parking spaces required for the restaurant and marina.
The town also reviewed the architectural drawings to confirm that they complied with the town zoning and architectural requirements. We received approval of the A&E drawings from the Town of Chesapeake Beach — and then submitted those permit documents to Calvert County for a building permit.  
The county agencies and the Office of the State Fire Marshal reviewed the permit package to ensure that we were compliant with the zoning ordinance, regulations enforced by the various county and state agencies, and for life safety and the fire code.  
We coordinated with the county and state review agencies, fielding questions and providing answers with supporting documents when necessary. Throughout the permit review process, we monitored its progress on the owner’s behalf. Finally, the permit application was approved by all parties and the building permit was granted.
While we were preparing the permit documents and during the permit review process, we were already busy helping the owner to get ready for the renovation project. The elevator shaft had already been installed as part of a previous addition.  
Ready to go
Under a separate contract, we worked with the owner and elevator company to get the elevator installed while also preparing the design for the tenant fit-out. This required creating a temporary safe area on the first floor to store materials and tools — as well as allowing workers to install the elevator and minimize disturbance for the patrons of the restaurant and gaming area, which was still open to customers.  
Since this work didn’t require a building permit, the owner was allowed to have the elevator installed before the drawings were completed or the permit was issued — which enabled them to complete that work before the renovation was started, already saving time during the renovation project. This way, the elevator was installed (without a hitch) before the work of renovating the second floor got underway.
During our initial inspection, we noted that portions of the steel roof decking had rusted and needed to be repaired. Working with the owner, roofing subcontractor, MEP engineer, structural engineer, and roofer, we designed the required modifications to have:
  • the existing roofing removed;
  • the steel deck repaired/replaced as needed; and 
  • new exterior insulation and roofing installed under a separate contract and building permit.
As part of the renovation, new rooftop HVAC units had to be installed on the roof. These units had to be engineered and specified by the HVAC engineer. Once we knew the weights and dimensions of the equipment that would be located on the existing roof, then the structural engineer had to design the required reinforcing to be installed to the roof structure to support the new HVAC equipment.  
Holes had to be cut in the roof to allow ductwork to penetrate, and curbing installed on the roof to support the new equipment. This work was completed before the second floor renovations, as the construction drawings for those renovations were still in progress.
A new second means of egress had to be designed and installed to make the second floor code-compliant, so we designed a new exterior staircase that provides a remote second means of egress. This required removing an existing porch and relocating existing HVAC units from the porch roof to provide space for the staircase.
We designed a new elevator lobby that also provides access at the top of the stairs from the lower level, as well as access to the restrooms and office space. New windows were installed around the dining and bar area on the second floor to create a more aesthetically pleasing exterior — replacing the old, uninsulated windows with new, insulated glass window units. Guests would now be able to view Fishing Creek and plenty of natural light flowed into the dining room and bar areas.
The fit-out continues
For the second-floor tenant fit-out, we began with these tasks:
  • The existing electrical service had to be upgraded to provide power for the new second floor use and the elevator.
  • New plumbing systems for the bar and restrooms had to be engineered and designed to connect to the existing system.
  • New HVAC systems had to be engineered and designed for the second-floor space, and some existing units had to be relocated — or removed and replaced with new units.
During construction, the owner decided to install two offices in the bar/dining room area.  This modified the floor plan so that it no longer matched the construction/permit documents that had been reviewed and approved by the County.
Upon notification by the building inspector, the contractor contacted us and requested that we modify the permit documents so that they match what had been built. This meant visiting the site to take measurements and document what had already been constructed. Then we had to modify the architectural and MEP documents to illustrate the layout that had been built, and submit the revised drawings to inspections and permits for review and approval.
Click here to see pictures taken during construction when we were asked to modify the construction documents.
The construction documents were revised and submitted to the County for review and approval, and once we received approval and the permit was updated, the work was able to continue.
Then, the contractor contacted us because a section of the old steel and concrete floor above an outdoor seating area had rusted through. We hadn’t seen this before because the area was previously obscured from view by a roof/ceiling system. We visited the site to inspect the area and took pictures. Here is a link to the pictures of the in-progress work.
We are currently working with the structural engineer and contractor to resolve this issue.
While we’ve hit some speed bumps along the way, we’re making great progress to update this beloved restaurant. As you can see, there’s a lot more to the services of the Architect than just “making a drawing!”
If your place of business needs some updating, contact us today to request a consultation. We’d love to help you make your building a nicer place to work!
Posted in Commerical, General Information.