Coffered Ceilings and Shower Recesses Built Into Floor Trusses

Coffered Ceilings and Shower Recesses Built Into Floor Trusses

Computers have made things with designing trusses easier. This is an idea I have witnessed to become part of the common thinking. Without doubts, the development of Computer Science has provided us more tools to face problems in a more efficient way. But also has allowed us to think of things from another perspective.

In the case of truss designing, we have come to a point of facing a complete new challenge for almost every new job. This could be annoying when you are trying to establish a routine of efficient, productive work.

And here comes and important difference: Do you want a routine of work or a routinely done work? I think the first one is necessary, but the second is not. So I´m understanding that routine is not related completely to activities in front the computer but to a way to face the new challenges to come (plan study, details, communications and questions, a lot of them).

Part of the new challenge comes in jobs like this one, not only for its novelties, but because I had to unfold the plans and layouts and so on to understand what he did and in the process know the way he thought to climb this mountain.


Doesn´t seem that bad, right? The interesting part comes when examining the first floor plans:


Usually coffers on the floor trusses area are a fake ceiling, a “furred down” build by framers in the field. Additionally, plans are asking for a 4” recess at the shower area. To top it off, there is a flush beam across the main hall, for this particular job it was required a top chord bearing. Fortunately at our favor we had the truss depth (24”) and ¾” decking.


This detail was consistent with the 8” depth coffer tray and the 4” recess. And this was important because more often than we thought we can find inconsistencies between details and design conditions. On those cases communications with customers are vital to maintain the flow of work.

The floor layout for this area:


Another important detail for this project was the aligned chase and the requirement of 24” wide. As we can see the section going through the shower didn´t allow the same configuration. This is a very “friendly” layout because it is accessible to read and interpret so it makes life easier to all persons involved in the shop and the field. We can easily identify the ceiling heights, trusses by types (regular, TC bearing or girders) open areas, detail calls, hatching for special sections, etc.

Now we´ll take a look at the stellar trusses for this job:

Going right to left FL08:


In this case the coffer area was increased so framers could add the fillers at the left to avoid the double stepped truss.

FL09 is one of my favorites:


We can see the 4” dropped section at the left where is the shower, also the coffer area in the Bottom Chord (BC). The designer keeps an area to be filled by framer. Why the ribbon at the right?

Let’s take a closer look at layout:


In the case of FL07 we “only” need the 4” dropped TC, but for a particular length:


For this truss was not possible to keep the chase aligned with previous ones, but the depth of the truss allow enough space to run the AC ducts through webs.

For FL06, the designer preferred to keep the coffer section clean for the framer and maintain aligned chases, so he only raised the BC 8”:



The objective of this article was not to “show off” how brilliant and creative our staff is. It was to show the importance of the proper usage to solve the more demanding architectural requirements and a team dedicated exclusively to learning and using the potential of the software “riding the wave” of constant improvement.

10 or 20 years ago, a 4×2 top-chord bearing shower recess step-down coffered floor truss was considered to be impractical, even insane. Today, it’s just another day at the office.

Hyper-specialization is a condition of our times and somewhere out there exists a team aware of a solution to the architectural challenges of today. You can sleep better knowing that there is a staff that has seen this and is committed to help each one of its members and therefore its clients to develop the maximum potential possible so new challenges can be embraced.

Christopher Gould – President

Gould Design, Inc.