"The furniture layout must allow for reasonable clearances and access to all of the furniture elements."
Based on the NCARB requirement for a 36" passageway, we understand this to mean that each piece of furniture must be accessible via a 36" clear access aisle.
The most efficient and effective way to verify that your solution has a 36" aisle is by checking it with a 36" 'sketch' circle. However, this is where many candidates make a mistake. They use a 'sketch' circle to establish the distance between two elements, but forget to provide a clear path to those elements.
In this example, the candidate has not provided a clear path to all of the furniture.
Although each piece has a 36" clear area in front of it, the coffee table, the large bookcase, and the three chairs on the east side of the conference table are effectively inaccessible.
Because the door on the east wall and the chair at the north end of the conference table are blocking the access aisle, the furniture in the northeast corner of the room is not accessible, i.e. there is no 36" clear access aisle.
Remove the impediment of the door, for example, and the access aisle is restored.
Using a 36" 'sketch' circle to measure the distance between two elements is only part of the process.
Consider the 'sketch' circle to be a moving object, much like a big Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. The Roomba must be able to get to all of the furniture, thereby establishing a path. If it cannot squeeze between two elements, then a 36" clear access aisle has not been provided.
Draw a 36" diameter 'sketch' circle anywhere on the screen. With the circle still connected to your cursor, "drive" the circle around on the plan (like a Roomba); through the door, around the table, between pieces of furniture. If access to something is blocked, you'll need to make some adjustments.
For more information on the Interior Layout vignette, check out our helpful NCARB Codes Illustrated documents in your NALSA Account under Free Stuff.
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NALSA's Vignette Package for the Schematic Design division is, hands-down, the best way to prepare for this ARE division.