Permit Set Fires Up Greek Restaurant

Transforming a commercial space—like office to restaurant—requires a permit set to obtain a building permit.  In this story, we helped The Taverna Greek Restaurant obtain their building permit, so they could open their doors faster. 


Open for Business

Congratulations! You’re opening a business, or moving to a better location. You found the perfect spot with plenty of foot traffic. What’s next? Well, in most cases, you need to acquire a building permit from your local town or city. And, in order to get a building permit, you need….a permit set.

What exactly is a permit set, and what goes into it?

A permit set is a set of very basic drawings stamped by a licensed architect. These drawings show the approximate size and shape of the space,  the mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems, and how each system is sized/positioned to meet code. The building department reviews the permit set, and once satisfied, will issue a building permit.

It’s important to understand that the permit set is only for obtaining the building permit. It does not actually communicate any specific information to enable a builder to build it. So if you’re a DIY contractor, or working with a builder on a design/build project, we can provide this set of drawings, stamped by our licensed architect, with a pretty fast turn-around time.

This is what we did for our friends over at The Taverna Greek Restaurant in Albany. They needed to convert an office space into a restaurant, which also had existing apartments above. The space layout had to meet code as a kitchen (cooking equipment), with ventilation, bathroom accessibility and additional fire-wall protection. The Taverna has been up and running for well over a year now, so go check them out for a tasty lunch outing. They are located at  38 S Pearl St, Albany, NY 12207.


Eric Davenport and the owner of Taverna Greek Restaurant. LEAP provided the permit set for change of use & obtaining a building permit.


Examples of Considerations for the Restaurant Permit Set

  • Accessibility requirements
  • Plumbing reconfigurations
  • Mechanical reconfigurations
  • Exhaust and make-up-air must be balanced to the BTUs of the cooking equipment
  • Collaborate with vendors to design ANSIL fire extinguishers
  • Grease trap per code requirements
  • Plumbing and mechanical configurations
  • Exterior building shell penetrations and weatherization
Fire protection
  • Fire rated floor and walls
  • Fire protection higher because of existing building with apartments above


Contact us for a commercial permit set. We show all local codes and requirements right on the plans. This helps you sail through the permitting process.

If you are interested in capitalizing on our design prowess, construction drawings are what you really want! Take a tour of one of our fully designed residences.

Mission Driven: Core Physical Therapy

LEAP Architecture designed Core Physical Therapy’s new treatment center with the same holistic approach they use for clients. Core is a great example of how smart designs help mission driven companies fulfill their purpose. 


Physical Therapy on a Mission

John Murphy is mission drive to provide holistic physical therapy

John Murphy founded Core Physical Therapy to fill a void. A disconnect. He was working for a corporate company where patient-needs just weren’t being met. John knew his patients deserved better. He could do better.

Founding Core in 2001, John made it his mission to help people regain a healthy and pain free body using a holistic, patient-centered approach. Core’s outstanding patient care is reflected in their success. They currently have a team of 15 therapists and a brand-new, purpose-designed facility by LEAP Architecture.

Core is a place patients can count on for great care by understanding staff. It’s a place where patients get better—better than they dreamed possible.  -John Murphy

Mission Driven Design

core physical therapy treatment room

When John called LEAP on December 23, 2017, he was in a little bit of a crunch. His out-of-state design firm was letting him down on some key issues. The major one being—they couldn’t provide design drawings—which are required for permitting and building.  Eric worked like a sugar-fueled elf (well, green tea), readying plans for approval. He got permit set together, changed the design to meet code, rearranged the space to add 5 additional treatment rooms, and updated the lighting using photometrics. John not only received the permit set he needed, the 5 “extra” treatment rooms mean greater availability to his clients and a faster ROI for John’s investment.


Cafe con Therapycore physical therapy opted for a waiting area with a cafe style and feel

As a way to further promote John’s client-center approach, he opted for a cafe-style reception area. Clients are served tea and coffee in comfortable chairs. The warm, burnt-orange accent walls were inspired by his favorite restaurant. In this more social and relaxed setting, staff can interact differently with clients during intake, which allows them to learn more and be more successful in their treatment.

Another positive aspect of this socialibility is referrals.  Referrals and networking are Core’s strongest business generators.

Core’s new space also includes a full-size gym, storage lockers, and office break-room. The interior finishes tie in with the brick building shell, for a comfortable, yet hip vibe. Visit them for yourself! Core Physical Therapy. I think one of John’s therapists sums it up nicely;

The work environment is one of constant learning and growing and I am very excited to be part of the Core team. -Steven Stokes


Take a video tour of LEAP’s recent projects.

Savvy Shipping Container Storage

LEAP Architecture designed a quick and easy shipping container storage for KOBO Candles to provide more room for their expanding business. 


Shipping containers were originally intended for the purpose of storing goods during long transits, so it makes sense that they are designed to be water tight and durable.  That combined with the ability to lock them up, offers security and safe storage from the elements. Shipping containers have been used for everything from low-cost housing to swimming pools (by cutting the top off). So, it’s certainly not a stretch to use one of these containers for stationary storage. Here we offer a few tips for making your shipping container storage more permanent and attractive.


Giving Your Shipping Container Legs

Permanent structures require a method to secure them to the ground with posts or a foundation. Luckily, there is a quick and easy solution that does not require a backhoe or even a post-hole digger; may I present the Techno Metal Post.techno metal posts used as easy foundation solution for shipping container storage

The Techno Metal Post helical pile is like a giant metal screw that is installed by a certified technician using proprietary hydraulic machinery.  The helical pile is constructed with a hollow steel tube and a thick helix made of high quality steel which can support upwards of 50,000 pounds per pile. The pier is augered into the ground until the desired bearing capacity is achieved. (source: Techno Metal Post of Albany)


Attractive Storage

To make the container more attractive and get a little advertising mileage, LEAP designed a large vinyl decal to cover the entire side of the shipping container storage box. The decal features the company name “KOBO” with a patterned background from one of their modern candle designs.

LEAP Architecture designed a quick and easy shipping container storage for KOBO Candles to provide more room for their expanding business.

It’s important to note that this container is not climate controlled, so only materials such as shipping supplies (label, boxes, packing materials) and the glass candle holders will be stored here. Temperature sensitive items like wax would not be appropriate due to the risk of melting in the summertime. Containers can be climate controlled – think refrigeration of bananas at 57 deg, but it’s an extra expense if you don’t need it.

Overall, the design and “construction” for this storage solution would be 2 days, not including the time to receive the container. The container can be easily accessed by either adding a metal ramp up to the doors or by using a pallet jack to load and unload.

Zoning and permitting are generally required. Check your local building ordinance.




Healthier Workplace: Enhanced Business Culture

Architectural design plays a large part in workplace psychology and enhanced business culture. It helps define everything from company culture and ethics, to employee productivity.

Psychology of Design

 “Environmental psychology explores the parameters and variables that might alter one’s mood, behavior, productivity, effectiveness, and attitude.” Irving Weiner, AIA, & Environmental Psychology Professor

Have you ever walked into an office, or store and felt like, “Ahh, this is a place I want to be”? Maybe you’re not even sure why, but your subconscious had evaluated the space and given its stamp of approval, even before your rational brain has caught up.

This non-verbal communication is important for a how a commercial space (be it storefront, office, apartment building) speaks to both its customers and employees. A healthy workplace design will impact the company identity (design of space), help define the company culture, and reflect its ethics. But not only that, it influences how people behave. Sound important? We think so.

commercial architect enhanced business culture - artistic

Lounge area for photographer’s studio

But you might ask, how do we know this? Well, the field of environmental psychology studies how everything around us—our spaces, our buildings, our cities, and our landscape—make us feel and behave.

According to Dave Alan Kopec (New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego),  it’s “the study of human relations and behaviors within the context of built and natural environments.” (1)

This knowledge of behavior modification is a powerful tool, which we as architects, use to create results for our clients. What kind of results? Well, in an office setting, this can lead to improvements in employee productivity, while for retail locations, purposeful design should lead to higher sales. In a healthcare environment, it could mean faster healing and shorter hospital stays. We’re talking tangible, measurable results!

“The goals are to integrate environmental factors such as HVAC, illumination, color, art, and ergonomics into the unconscious mind, so that one’s perception is positive; which in turn shall motivate one to be more effective in academia, in the community, and in the workforce.” Irving Weiner

Healthier Workplace: Enhanced Business Culture

So if this is known, and out there, why are so many office-type building still so…. blah? Well, according to Mike Bahr, it’s because most modern offices are solely considered as a cost, rather than a performance driver. They go for so called “functional” considerations, like let’s cram as many people in as possible, and one-size fits all workstations.

Don’t get us wrong, functionality is incredibly important, but designing based on the narrow definition of function misses so many opportunities. We like to incorporate all aspects of what we consider to be functionality, which includes how our clients want to encourage their clients/employees to behave and feel.

corporate office architect designs schematic for GE Battery plant new offices to enhanced business culture

Corporate office space for General Electric

And each situation is different. A highly collaborative office culture may need more shared workstations, meeting spaces, lounge areas, while a control culture is more suited to formal, individual spaces. It all starts with a) the “recognition of space as a way to support productivity and company goals”, b) defining the goals for behaviors and company culture, and c) letting the architect synergize all the elements in to a design that delivers.

How is your commercial space supporting your goals? We’ve helped all types of companies from corporate offices, to salons, and professional studio spaces  to enhanced business culture. Take a look at some of our projects and see how we can help you!


Want a Healthier Workplace? Try Architecture.

Creating a healthier workplace can cover many topics. Do we mean air quality of the building, employee satisfaction or the business bottom line? Yes, yes, & yes. Read on to learn how LEAP’s designs can holistically improve the health and productivity of your business. 


Happiness is a Key Ingredient in Healthier Workplace

If your employees wake up in the morning and think to themselves, “Another day at the fart-factory”, Milton in the basement, a poor example of business health(which is what my father snidely referred to the high school where he taught), maybe your space needs a little moral boost. So what goes into employee moral?

Well, job satisfaction and  purpose are two of the big ones touted regularly. But we have a suspicion that even with all the purpose in the world, if you stick someone down in the window-less basement with Milton, their job satisfaction will be taken away, just as sure as his stapler.

Why should you care about your employees’ happiness? Well, in a 2010 review, Brent D. Rosso, PhD showed that having job purpose increased motivation, engagement, empowerment, career development, job satisfaction, individual performance and personal fulfillment, and decreased absenteeism and stress (Research in Organizational Behavior, 2010). Furthermore, organizations directly benefit from workers who are invested in their jobs, as they are most likely to build new products and services, attract new customers and drive innovation (Gallup, 2013).

Okay, so happy employees need job satisfaction, job purpose, and a great environment. Jane E. Dutton, PhD, a professor at University of Michigan can help your employees find meaning in their work; Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace, 2013.

LEAP Architecture will show you 6 important design concepts, creating spaces where people can’t wait to get to work!


LEAP’s 6 Concepts for a Healthier Workplace

healthier workplace - aspects of a healthy building environment


Healthier Workplace: Increased Productivity

The 6 concepts above, work together to increase employee productivity and also client satisfaction. When employees feel better, they take fewer sick days and are more excited about their jobs. Did we mention that even Walmart redesigned their stores to incorporate skylights?

Good design reduces workplace stressors, such as:

  • Sick building syndrome – where mold, pollen, material off-gassing and  bioeffluence can build up
  • Poor lighting – where space feel confined and may be too dim, create glare, or have flickering fluorescent lights
  • Temperature gradients – sweltering or freezing, neither is comfortable
  • Noise – where it sound like your co-worker is sitting inside your cubicle, or sound from machinery

Good news, LEAP isn’t alone in this mission of business health. There are at least 2 programs out there, International WELL Building Institute and Fitwel, offering guidance and certification for healthy building. The other good news is that LEAP’s commitment to human and environmental health is already built into our design approach!


How does your business environment stack up? If there are some areas that could use improvement, give us a call. We can help.


Nature Center Design Envisioned

Embedded within a constructed wetland design, the center engages nature for its visitors with functional technology driven by natural processes.Constructed wetlands serve as part of the Nature Education Center’s living laboratory experience and are the primary waste water treatment system.

Nature Center Design

Energy Efficient Architecture, Natural Processes, and Simplicity

The plan is a simple form to reduce construction costs and maintain energy efficiency while its orientation maximizes solar gain. Complexity of the plan is evident in an gathering entry defined by the roof water cistern, support space and displays divided by a mass wall that reflects daylight, and the constructed wetland wastewater treatment laboratory that is present inside and out.

The architect uses daylight and natural ventilation to promote highly energy efficient buildings. The exterior faces south to gain light and heat from the sun whilst being protected from glare with louvers that are part of the siding system.

The exhibit and support spaces are divided by a mass wall to retain heat, and reflect daylight into the display areas.


Architecture by LEAP

Site design by Cardinal Direction Landscape Architecture, LLC

LEAP Architecture

Businesses and families have hired LEAP Architecture when looking for a Residential or Commercial architect.

Whether in New York City or in Upstate from Hudson to Albany, in Saratoga or in the Adirondacks, a LEAP architect will help you develop creative design solutions.

Click here to contact LEAP Architecture


Have questions for the architect? Ask them here…

Corporate Office Architect Designs GE Battery Plant in Schenectady, NY

GE required a corporate office architect to re-purposed manufacturing space into a new, highly functional office. LEAP Architecture created the design.

Corporate Office Architect: Innovative design help grow businesses, both large and small.

GE (General Electric) needed ideas for their new battery plant office and administration spaces in Schenectady, NY, and LEAP’s architect designed office space layouts and geometry based on programming and site analysis. As a consultant to MOSAIC Associates, a LEAP architect helped GE determine how to best re-purpose an existing facility on their Schenectady campus.

The result is a responsive design utilizing and new atrium and various shading devices to temper daylight in work areas, and double as the backdrop to a dramatic atrium space. Various office functions needed by GE (project rooms, break-out conference “war” spaces, workstations, docking areas, and presentation and support areas) are sheltered behind various screens of densities determined by programmatic needs. Thus, a dramatic atrium entry was created as an impressive public space that doubled as a very functional design that filters and reflects daylight in the office spaces beyond.



LEAP Architecture

Businesses and families hire LEAP Architecture when looking for a Residential or Commercial architect.

From New York City to Upstate, in Saratoga to the Adirondacks, LEAP Architecture will help you develop creative design solutions.

Click here to contact LEAP Architecture