Creating Outdoor Spaces Out of Indoor Space

Restaurants, bars, and retail stores are desperate to reopen as soon as possible to as many customers as safely possible.  Until we have a proven COVID-19 vaccine, most consumers are going to remain tremendously cautious to go back out to dining, shopping, and socializing out in public.  Architects and designers have been tasked to create outdoor spaces out of enclosed indoor areas.  When you remove large areas of exterior walls, you will need to work with a structural engineering company.  Okamoto Structural Engineering (OSE) has been involved with several reimagined indoor-outdoor spaces, and we would like to share some of our lessons learned.

Remaining Open

California’s health mandates have primarily forced indoor bars to remain closed while restaurants with outdoor dining have been able to remain open on a limited capacity.  Restaurants have now been working with building owners to allow for large doors to be installed to open the inside dining up to the outside.  So, even though they have primarily closed their indoor operations, they can now have expanded outdoor patio seating.  Restaurant and retail owners can remain committed to safety and wellness while remaining a semi-viable business.

Devil’s in the Details

Before you plan to install a big door opening in your restaurant or bar, you need to work with a designer or architect who understands local codes and permit processing.  It is these architects who assemble the correct team of experts who can properly investigate existing site conditions including structural properties, Title 24 implications, electrical, plumbing, accessibility, etc.  OSE’s structural team sends experienced engineers to every project site where a “float away” door is planned.  Our plans need to include both details for existing structural conditions and new construction as we need to ensure any builder has a proper roadway.

Opening a New World

The one thing we can all agree on is that California’s weather is wonderful.  Why not open your business and bring the outside in.  Our clients have created all new, inviting spaces bringing fresh air and economic stability to our struggling restaurants.  In California, we truly can enjoy our great weather either while sitting on the beach or having a nice dining experience with friends.

If you have any comments or questions then please contact John M. Cruikshank, PE, President & CEO of OKAMOTO Structural Engineering at, (714) 444-2422 x101,

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