Design on Wheels

August 3, 2011

Shawn in the Austin office is working on a cool project involving a train that could develop once permits get approved.

One of our clients has a long-time side project of relocating old buildings (train depots, feed warehouses) to a commercial site and  refurbishing them as rental offices.  His latest acquisition is a 1937 train lounge car, purchased from a lot in northern Canada on the basis of photos posted by the seller.  The local fire marshall decided a New Building Permit is required before the train could be installed on a section of track that the owner is having built.  STG Design’s task was to document the car as a New Shell Building under the IBC.

Nambe (#1371) is one of six cars built as a mid-train lounge for The Chief, and is in exceptional condition.  The stainless-steel car was designed by Beaux-Arts master Paul Cret, architect of the UT tower and many of the buildings built on the main campus from the 1920s to the 1950s (the owner may pursue listing under the Texas Historical Commission.)

It is the owner’s intent to maintain the original elements, inside and out, to preserve its historical character.  When it is brought to the site, the car will be ready for plug-in operation, with fully functioning electrical and HVAC systems complying with Federal Railroad Administration regulations for the wiring of passenger cars.

Safety (emergency exit) features required by the Federal Railroad Administration are in place, although they are not exactly what the IBC requires for a ground-up building.  Exterior modifications at existing openings are not technically feasible, as the stainless-steel shell of the car is also its structural system (we interpreted that as evidence of non-combustible construction, by the way.)  Accessibility modifications are not required, as both State and Federal regulations exempt railroad cars from compliance with accessibility standards.

The permit application has been submitted and we’re waiting to hear back comments; the car remains in Canada until the permit is approved.

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One Response to “Design on Wheels”

  1. Sally Chavez Says:

    What a creative and challenging project! Have fun!


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