Raised Access Floors: The Foundation of Flexibility and Efficiency

Economical modular systems simplify facility management and increase indoor air quality
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Advertorial course provided by Steelcase Corporation
Peter J. Arsenault, AIA, NCARB, LEED-AP, Joel Zwier, AIA, Steelcase, Inc., and Architectural Product

2. Flexible power and data management
Another advantage of access floors is the easier management of power and data, both during construction and afterwards during occupancy. Access floors create an open cavity for fast and easy distribution, and management of power and data cables.

At installation, wires and cables can be run on the building's structural subfloor with virtually no obstructions. When moves, changes, or additions are needed, power and cable can be easily accessed through the floor panels. By contrast, traditional methods require removing suspended ceiling panels, pulling wires through conduit, disrupting the workplace all while working on ladders versus picking up an access floor panel, disconnecting the modular wiring and moving it.

Modular wiring systems allow for improved management of power, voice, data and other wiring needs.
Photo Courtesy of Steelcase

3. Increased space flexibility
Overall, access floors provide a clear increase in space flexibility over traditional flooring methods. When relocating, panel locations and types are easy to change and exchange. When expanding spaces, more floor boxes can be added for power, voice, and data systems. In either case, air quality and temperature control can be maintained by simply adding adjustable floor diffusers. And when it comes time for a facility to upgrade itself, easy underfloor access to building services means easy updates to technology with minimal disruption.

Workspace flexibility is enhanced through the use of raised access floors.
Photo Courtesy of Steelcase

4. Reduced construction time
Access floors are installed after the wiring, HVAC, and plumbing are installed. That means each of these trades has easy and open access to the structural floor, saving coordination time. Significant time reductions are possible by eliminating the need to hang things in the air, meaning no need to "fish" wires through a suspended ceiling, and not having to use ladders or lifts. And, because less ductwork is required for underfloor HVAC systems, less time is needed for ductwork fabrication and installation. Finally, because access floors have the capability for nearly perfect level floors, the remaining construction above them can go smoother and faster.

Typical access floor construction and installation.
Photo Courtesy of Steelcase


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Originally published in Architectural Record.
Originally published in December 2005