One of my colleagues likes to remind me that in an open concept floor plan, which is obviously pretty common these days, it is the RCP, or reflected ceiling plan, that really defines a space. (For those of you who might be unfamiliar, an RCP is a plan drawing that shows you what the ceiling of a space looks like.) What he means by this is that it is things like dropped ceilings and bulkheads that really define a space. And when you’re designing a multi-unit building, you are going to have these things to contend with and coordinate (though you can also run exposed ductwork, which eliminates the need for some bulkheads/drops).
I like this reminder for two reasons.
One, he’s right. Ceilings matter. Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, is well known for playing around with them in his projects. He would take you through compressed spaces with lower ceiling heights and then “release” you into grand open spaces. The contrast made it all feel even more dramatic. (But I reckon Mr. Wright was pretty short because I swear I’ve been in some of his houses and the ceilings were in the range of 6′-6″.) And two, I want us to focus on this level of detail in our projects. They can be a pain in the ass to coordinate and you can’t always get them exactly how you want them, but we are paying attention.