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I am attempting to remodel my kitchen in a condo. In the floor plans shown below, there is a small square symbol with a diagonal line through it. Has anyone seen this and can I assume it’s load bearing?

Every unit directly below has the same symbol in the same exact spot and in that spot is a wall/pillar but from first glance you wouldn’t think it’s structural.

enter image description here enter image description here

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  • It strikes me as being a bit of an unusual location for a load bearing wall/column, but, since it seems to go through all floors of the building, that does seem to be a logical assumption. Could you provide a picture of your actual living space showing that spot? I know, you may have to clean up a bit, but it's Friday and you could just get a head start on cleaning for a date this weekend... (even if it's "just" with the wife :D ) – FreeMan Feb 26 at 16:31
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    Also, since I presume you talked to the condo management to get a copy of the floor plan, they might be the best source for an answer as to whether this particular location is actually load bearing, as they should have structural plans somewhere in the management office. – FreeMan Feb 26 at 16:33
  • Just added 2 additional photos. The image being displayed is the ninth floor right below, where you can see the same symbol in the unit directly below. The image url shows the kitchen with the column to the right of the fridge. – Matt Feb 26 at 17:32
  • Are you planning to do this work yourself, or are you checking up on comments or bid notes from contractors? – Jon Feb 27 at 22:11
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Any building over 3 stories is probably constructed with steel.

I’m sure those are enclosed steel structural columns with a pipe chase.

Leave it alone. Do not remove the material they used to cover the columns because it’s a fire rated assembly.

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  • What about just shaving off a few inches in width and length to save some space? It looks like it’s just drywall covering whatever is behind so couldn’t we just make the amount of space it takes up as minimal as possible? – Matt Feb 26 at 17:49
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    @Matt No, you cannot “shave off a few inches” of the fire rated material. Steel is very weak in a fire. It needs protection. If the Fire Marshal discovers you’ve tampered with the fire assembly, he could shut the entire building down. (I don’t think the other condo owners would appreciate that much and you’d find yourself in court.) – Lee Sam Feb 26 at 18:43
  • There are reinforced concrete mid- and high-rise buildings out there, but that doesn't change the fact that a) this is very likely a primary structural column since most buildings this tall are space-framed with a curtain wall system and b) is part of a fire rated assembly which probably shouldn't be messed with – ThreePhaseEel Feb 27 at 3:19
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Three points, since you say this is a condo and given the type of building:

  1. There are blueprint conventions (as far as this case is concerned), but not a universal guideline (Though there may be local requirements). The fact that these markings go from roof to foundation strongly indicates these are structural columns. With that in mind, they could be chases. You could remove the finishes and see what's inside.
  2. Have you confirmed with your ownership agreements that you have a right to make modifications to walls etc. without approval of the board? A good set of bylaws will prohibit you from making modifications on your own, especially without some sort of deligated design responsibility which an architect would assume in signing the go ahead on your renovation plan, because there are so many opportunities to screw up surrounding units or the core/shell of the building itself. For example, even if it is not structural: drive a screw through a pipe trying to mount new cabinets, you leak on what looks like 8 floors below you; damage, fail to replace, fail to bring up to code, or lessen the integrity of a fire resistive/protective components, life safety is impacted and you will be liable.
  3. Have you asked your super or the board to advise you on this question or provide you with the structural record set of drawings?

Happy wrecking!

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I would use caution and consult a structural engineer in your area to find out if this is even legal and the type building materials required.

Most large buildings the divider walls are not structural or nothing you would cut through outside of a torch.

For example in my area any electrical changes at all require a licensed electrician and conduit or proper cable type (NO nm cable unless inside conduit).

The construction material is also regulated to be fire rated type of construction.

I was not able to see the symbols it shows as a black box when I blow it up Is there smoke alarms there? Out away from the wall I doubt it would be a electrical or plumbing chase. Is there anything you can see in your unit to provide a clue to what it is?

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