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Building design

Become the Best Commercial Building Design Professional

Have you ever looked at an amazing commercial building and wondered how it was designed?

Camiel Weijenberg
September 29, 2021
Building design

Have you ever looked at an amazing commercial building and wondered how it was designed? Perhaps these buildings are skyscrapers, such as those found in Hong Kong or Victorian designs in London. Well, a lot of work goes into play before such buildings take the attractive outlook. So, if you are an aspiring commercial building architect, here is everything that you need to know. In the end, we will list some of our best 100 commercial building design ideas. 

What is Commercial Building Design?

Before we can look at the leading ideas for building an excellent commercial building, it is important to start by establishing what it is. 

A commercial building is any building structure that is created for commercial purposes. However, the term commercial can have a broad meaning, implying that these buildings can be used in a number of ways, such as retail centers or hospitals. Therefore, these are buildings designed for restaurants, warehouses, shops, offices, or any other commercial activity. We will use office space as an example in this case. 

As you might have noted, commercial office buildings can also differ depending on the nature of offices that will be hosted there. As an architect, it is prudent to have a clear understanding of the targeted offices. For example, if the house hosts shared offices, it might be a good idea to make the rooms slightly larger than those that host individual offices. 

How Do You Design a Commercial Building? 

The process of designing a commercial building requires a comprehensive understanding of the process, targeted use of the rooms, and zoning, among others. Here are some useful tips to help you design an awesome building:

  • Put More Focus Into Determining the Purpose of the Building 

The primary goal of designing a commercial building is to make it a good place for housing products or services. Therefore, you need to factor in all the requirements. First, you need to think about the use of the space plus those who will work from there. Ensure to work with the client to identify his aspirations and targets. For example, does he want to make a shop design stock room or a whole unit for consultancy types of offices? 

Even when a client indicates that he has a specific target about the use of the building, it is your role to offer advice on improvements. For example, you might want to use generative design programs to develop alternatives so that your client can make comparisons. 

  • Factor the Users 

The easy thing for an architect is replicating the selected units, but it does not work well for commercial buildings. As a good architect, it is important to look at each project from a different point of view to meet the changing user demands. For example, if you are designing a hospital, it should have a different design from that of a retail building. How people interact with these buildings will also differ, and it is important to visualize it well. 

  • Factor in the Commercial Building Surrounding 

Another important consideration is whether the commercial building should follow or stand out from the surrounding. This will mainly depend on the nature of the business that will be done on the building. For example, a unique building style may be a better option when targeting to attract more clients. However, making it follow the existing trend can help avoid controversy and easily integrate into the neighborhood more effectively. 

Useful Software for Commercial Building Design

Now that we have indicated the process involved in designing a commercial building, it is also important to point out that you need the right tools. The most important of these are the right programs for building designs. So, here are some suggestions that you should consider: 

  • AutoCAD 

This program was designed first in 1982 and has become like the industrial standard for architects who design different types of buildings, including commercial ones. It primarily uses 2D drawing tools to create sections, floor plans, and elevations. Now, it also comes with 3D tools that make it very robust and fast in creating new commercial building designs

  • Revit

This is another highly popular program, which has been designed to support BIM workflows and assist designers to not only rapidly come up with new designs but also to track all stages of the building establishment. It means that instead of using a different program for designs and shifting to a different one during construction, Revit serves both purposes. Many commercial building design architects love this program because it integrates well with other programs, especially those from Autodesk.

  • Rhino

This is a 3D and CAD program that is based on non-uniform rational basis spline models as opposed to the traditional types that use mesh networks. Therefore, it is preferred when designers target making more precise presentations of freeform and curved surfaces. It also comes with sophisticated 3D modeling capabilities compared to most building programs. 

These are only a few of the leading building and design programs that you should consider for commercial building design. Others include GIMP, SketchUp, and Chief Architect. If you are new to building design, it will be crucial to learn more about these programs to be able to optimize their use and craft excellent commercial building designs

Unique Ideas for Commercial Building Designs 

Now that we have highlighted the most important tips to factor in when designing a commercial building and the software to use, where do you start? Here are some of our 100 top ideas for building design experts to consider: 

  • Heroic Branding: This design is aimed at giving a building a unique outlook in line with the company’s brand through color, texture, and lines.

  • Evolutionary Design: This commercial building combines elements of older designs with new ones to create something that is completely unique. In the example below, the architectural panels effectively harmonize with ship-lap wood lock installations.

  • Contrasting Lines: This design allows you to experiment with the best way to highlight paneling. In the demonstration below, the red exterior uses a crisp white trim on the panels. 


As you can see, developing a commercial building design requires an inherent understanding of the project, the neighborhood, and the client's goals. More importantly, you need to factor in the targeted use, users and have the right programs. Remember to be as creative as possible and always follow the legal requirements, if any, of the area that the building will be based in 


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