Building Typology Masterclass: Wrap

Learn how to design a Wrap construction product in Giraffe with this step-by-step guide.

According to Multifamily Executive, “The Wrap typically comprises four stories of on-grade, Type-5 wood-frame construction surrounding an above-ground, concrete parking structure. The housing and parking buildings are structurally separate, allowing high-cost efficiencies in each.”

Learn how to design a Wrap construction product in Giraffe with this step-by-step guide.

Consider Community, Density, and Walkability

Wrap-style developments are best suited for lower or medium-density areas. The Wrap should encourage walkability, and planners and urbanists recommend incorporating mixed-use ground floors to generate foot traffic and create a sense of belonging in the community. High-density areas benefit more from Podium or Core & Shell construction.

Consider loading in Layers that demonstrate neighborhood walkability, local transportation options, and other neighborhood amenities. Search your municipality’s open data resources to find applicable layers by Importing Non-Native Data Into Giraffe. Giraffe has curated thousands of public data layers, and you can also add your own.

Solve for Traffic Flow

At the core (no pun intended) of a Wrap development is parking, so good traffic flow is imperative to project success. Make sure you consider the directional flows of traffic within the parking structure, and the traffic flows of the surrounding neighborhood, especially if the development will significantly increase density. Consider adding project Layers that demonstrate traffic flow for context. Try to also understand where pedestrian-heavy areas may be, such as bus stops or popular points of interest, and avoid placing your parking access nearby.

💡 Data layers for transportation, points of interest, and other demographic information may be available from your municipality. Try searching “City Name” open data to see what you can find! You can try Importing Non-Native Data Into Giraffe to add new layers.

You may also wish to consider pedestrian access, so owners can access their vehicles and parking attendants or other staff can access the structure.  Pedestrian access may not be a core feature at the feasibility design stage, but zoning boards and community organisations appreciate the thoughtfulness. Pedestrian access may be part of a community space like a building lobby, parallel to car traffic entrances, or elsewhere.

Depending on your municipality’s zoning requirements or community requests you may also decide to include bicycle parking. Ensure access to the bicycle parking is secure and pedestrian safe.

Design the Building

Now that you have put some thought into planning, you can start designing!

Create Usages

Giraffe connects the geometry you draw with the data you see through the concept of a Usage.

Giraffe comes with some default usages such as Residential, Road, Basement Carpark and Annotation, and you can create your own and copy them between projects.

Some suggested Usages for a Wrap development are:

  • Parking
  • Residential
  • Retail/Commercial
  • Community
  • Amenity

Some of these usages exist already as part of your standard Giraffe template. Edit them to fit your project’s assumptions.  You can also add as many custom usages as you need.

Draw the Parking Garage

Access the Transportation menu (Car Icon) in the Draw Palette at the bottom of the app window.

For a rectangular garage, select “Multi-Deck Parking.” You can also switch the parking usage type once drawn if you change your mind.

The number of parking spaces is an important metric for many developments. Use the Generate bays tool to adjust the parking to meet your definitions. Each parking usage type has additional special properties.

Multi-level parking properties:

  • Stack
  • Levels
  • Show/Hide Façade
  • Financial Calculations are similar to other Building geometry

Draw the Residences and other occupiable structures

Since the residences of a Wrap building type generally surround 3+ sides of the garage structure, the recommended methodology for creating the building is the Spine tool.

tart by accessing the Building tool (the Cube icon) in the draw palette. Click the tool in the draw palette, then select the diagonal 3-dot icon next to the Usage name you would like to apply. Select whether the geometry offsets from the spine to the right, left, or both. Select the width of the geometry.

Click at each corner of the outline of the shape. Double Click at the final node to exit the tool. Snap to the corners of the existing garage by holding down S on your keyboard. You will end up with a building that wraps your parking garage.

💡 You can combine modeling methods to create unique shapes to match your design preferences or maximise a unique site.  Check out How to Draw Buildings in Giraffe to learn more.

Buildings often have multiple stories and may have mixed uses. Some key ways to manage the data about the design of your structures are feature properties such as:

  • Levels
  • Floor-to-Floor
  • Stack
  • Depth, Height, and Base Height
  • Corner styles

Add Amenities and Infrastructure

Some typical amenities and infrastructure for Wrap type developments might include:

  • Landscaping
  • Outdoor Plazas
  • Indoor Community Spaces
  • Retail/Commercial frontage
  • Stormwater Management
  • Streets and Paths
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Analyze for Success

There are two ways to analyze your project.  Use the Urban Tab for high-level metrics, like FAR, GFA, and more. Use Analytics to build out a custom proforma that matches your assumptions with geometric data from the project to forecast performance.

Check for Parking Requirements

Research your municipality's zoning code requirements for parking. Is it based on the area? The number of units? The number of residents? Are there ways to negotiate for fewer spots by adding other amenities like bike parking, electric vehicle charging, or rideshare pickup locations?

Your company may also dictate a larger number of parking spaces based on your strategy or product type. Giraffe does not read the zoning code to dictate parking requirements to you, so it is easy to solve for any minimum parking assumptions you wish to employ.

Once you understand the requirements, update your Usages to reflect them.

Add the “Parking Required” property to any Usage that you need to calculate parking requirements based on area.  This might be for retail, commercial, or community Usages. Put in the number of spaces required per square foot/meter depending on your code.

  • For residential usages, adjust the parking requirements per unit type.
  • If it is based on area, override the unit parking requirements by adding the Parking required property and setting the unit-based parking properties to 0.
  • The performance of your parking provided against your assumptions displays in the Urban tab.

Check for Jobs and Tax Impact on Community

It is important for the existing community that any new development, especially one of mixed-use, will add to the neighborhood.  Demonstrate your understanding and care for these needs by analyzing the impact using Analytics .

💡 You may choose to start with the Zoning Analytics template if your main goal is to analyze for impact.

Some Measures you can add to analytics to solve for impact:

  • Total Output: Value of dollars put back into the economy
  • Multiply Dwelling Total Residents by the assumed average spend per person for your area.
  • Total Employment: Number of Jobs created
  • Update the Jobs per Area properties for the applicable Usages. IE, if you will have on-site staff, parking attendants, pool lifeguards, or dedicated property managers and leasing agents.
  • Total Earnings: Compensation paid to employees
  • Multiply the annual compensation by the Jobs per Gross Area for applicable usages.
  • Taxes generated per dwelling or sqft
  • If it is a for-sale product, calculate the property taxes per unit based on your current tax assessment assumptions
  • If for rent, calculate the taxes you expect to pay annually and add as a Constant

Check for Profitability

The goal of most development projects in the private sector is to generate profit for the developer.  Your own internal calculations for IRR or other return metrics can easily be built out in Analytics. If you need help, please schedule time with our customer success team and we can get you started!

💡 You may choose to start with the Build for Rent or Build for Sale Analytics templates if your main goal is to solve for profitability.

Some measures you may want to include:

  • Hard Costs of both the Podium and the Wood-Frame structure
  • Soft Costs
  • Land Cost
  • Net Potential Rent for residences and retail/commercial spaces
  • Vacancy Rate
  • Fees
  • Carrying Costs and other Financing

You can be as general or as granular as you need to be to feel confident with your project. Once you build out the perfect Analytics schema, save it to your workspace’s Templates library to use again and again.

Quick Links

Wrap Example Project





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