Joint Use Retail  



The Joint Use Retail space types are physical stores used for the sale of products and services. Joint Use Retail space types may include news and book stands, flower shops, convenience stores, travel agencies, credit unions, dry cleaning services, shoe shine stands, barber and beauty shops, print shops, courier mail shops, retail of clothing or other hard goods, and similar applications. Retail spaces are changing rapidly because of the many options for shopping and ordering products and services online. Therefore, spaces should be designed with flexibility in mind in order to incorporate other possible uses and/or tenants in the future. Many retail spaces are also being turned into multi-use spaces that can act as a catalyst for urban renewal, social activities, large events, and entertainment.

gift shop at the Tate Modern, London

The new gift shop at the Tate Modern in London features stackable shelves, and is divided into three zones that encourage children, tourists, and art connoisseurs. With flexible merchandising tools, the space can be easily redefined and changed, elevating the museum shopping experience to new heights.
Image Credit: Marta Knas

Features that are not included in this space type are: cashier windows, vaults, built-in safes, drive-through windows, or pneumatic tube systems, barber and beauty shops, and print shops. Some types of leased spaces may be more characteristic of other space types, such as offices for insurance agencies (Office) and pharmacies (Health Care).

Space Attributes

Unique to Joint Use Retail space types is the integration of aesthetics into the entrances, windows, and retail areas within the space that help designate the space as commercial, and that can be easily distinguished from areas of the space that are accessible only to retail employees. Typical features of Joint Use Retail space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below.

Illustration of an accessible checkout area

Accessible checkout areas are connected to an accessible route and have sufficient clear floor space for a person using a wheelchair.
Image Credit: U.S. Department of Justice


  • Provide accessible routes throughout the retail space.

  • Dressing rooms should be designed to accommodate accessibility needs including a fixed seat, a door that swings out and a 180 degree turning circle inside, and a full-length mirror if a mirror is provided.

  • Counters and registers should be designed to include at least one that is accessible at 36" long by 36" high.


  • Public Entryway Features: Entrances that are for public use are generally situated so as to open directly onto public circulation systems. Design entrances to incorporate occupant and merchandise security into the overall aesthetic goals.

  • The overall design of the space should be a unique and inviting expression that will draw potential customers into the space. The aesthetic design will also serve as a corporate/brand identity feature. See also WBDG Aesthetic Challenges.

Retail space with light up counters and merchandise hanging from ceilings

This retail space has a unique aesthetic for displaying merchandise, through the up-lighting technique on the counters and the hanging of merchandise from the ceiling, which includes an art installation for visual effect.

Functional / Operational

  • Merchandise Display Systems: Unique to this space type are display systems such as shelving and casework. These systems are typically designed for 80 LB/SF of live load. In certain retail environments casework is mobile, allowing for greater flexibility on the sales floor.

  • Separate Utility Metering: The Joint Use Retail space type is typically designed to include separate electrical metering for each tenant-occupied space.

  • Occupancy: The occupancy classification for the Joint Use Retail space type is Mercantile Group M or Business Occupancy B, with sprinkler protected construction and GSA Acoustical Class C1 for enclosed offices. See also WBDG Secure/Safe—Fire Protection.

Secure / Safe

  • Integrate security measures with the overall design of the retail space early in the process. Consider the use of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles in the design, technology, and operations of the space for the protection of three critical assets: people, information, and property.

  • Cashier and Limited Access Areas: Joint Use Retail space types will typically include areas that as designated as "employee only" access, such as a manager's office, employee kitchen/lavatory, and merchandise and general storage. These areas will require increased security around doors and other access ways.

  • Install security cameras or CCTV (video surveillance) and lockable displays, and design the space to have clear zones that are visible and do not create weak or vulnerable spots. Keep displays low so that people and products within the space are visible and accessible.

  • Incorporate appropriate lighting levels to create a welcoming and safe atmosphere as well as reduce or eliminate dark corners.

Retail space with an integrated CCTV system

A CCTV camera system has been incorporated as a security measure into this retail space, which is not very apparent to the customer, but can also simplify store merchandise auditing, analyze customer behaviors, and gather marketing insights.


  • Retail Window Display: Retail window display systems such as neon enterprise signage and display and decorative lighting should be designed to be energy efficient when possible. Take advantage of natural daylighting, through the appropriate placement of windows and skylights, and natural ventilation to lower utility costs. Utilize window display features such as shading devices to decrease direct solar gain. For more information, see Energy-Efficient Lighting, Daylighting, and Windows and Glazing.

  • Provide insulation in roofs and walls in order to reduce energy use and heat gain in the space.

  • Address healthy indoor environmental quality through appropriate airflow and filtering of air, and materials, furnishings, and finishes that do not off-gas.

  • Use durable products in the retail space and plan for products with reduced packaging and recyclability potential to minimize waste.

Example Program

The following building program is representative of Joint Use Retail space types.


Tenant Occupiable Areas
Qty. SF Each Space Req'd. Sum Actual SF Tenant Usable Factor Tenant USF
Hearing Facilities       1,310    
    Entry Display 1 200 200      
    Cashier Counter 2 80 160      
    Display 20 20 400      
    Customer Service
3 60 180      
    Manager Office 1 150 150      
    Staff Workstations 2 80 160      
    Lavatory 1 60 60      
    Store Room 1 300 300      
    Housekeeping 1 80 80      
    Tenant Suite     1,690 1,310 2.07 2,714
Tenant Usable Areas           2,714

Example Plans

The following diagram illustrates representative tenant plans.

Joint use retail space type

Example Construction Criteria

For GSA, the unit costs for Joint Use Retail space types are based on the construction quality and design features in the following table . This information is based on GSA's benchmark interpretation and could be different for other owners.

Relevant Codes and Standards

The following agencies and organizations have developed codes and standards affecting the design of Joint Use Retail space types. Note that the codes and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and consultants should consider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever possible.

Additional Resources