Project Categories: Alterations - Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PACO)

An assembly space is where groups of people use a building or portions of a building for the gathering of any number of persons for civic, social or religious functions, recreation, food or drink consumption, or similar activities. Examples of types of assembly spaces include theaters, auditoriums, banquet halls, restaurants, spectator sporting venues, arcades, public plazas, courtrooms, large lecture halls, outdoor stadiums, houses of worship, museums, public pools, bars, accessory conference rooms, food courts, or rooftop terraces.

A Place of Assembly in New York City must comply with various regulations. Places of assembly are Group ‘A’ Assembly occupancy classification in section BC 303 of the 2014 Building Code, ‘F’ in the 1968 Building Code, and a ‘Place of Assembly’ in the 1938 Code. City zoning regulations include assembly spaces under several Use Groups as listed in Appendix A of the NYC Zoning Resolution. A Place of Assembly project must also comply with the requirements of the NYC Fire Code as outlined in section FC 407, including fire safety and emergency preparedness plans.

Assembly spaces can be located indoors or outdoors. Assembly spaces with an occupant load of less than 75 persons are classified, with exceptions, as Group B Business occupancies. New York City requires a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PACO) under two circumstances:

  • where 75 or more people gather indoors or on roof terraces; or
  • where 200 or more people gather outdoors.

Regulatory elements that govern a Place of Assembly include, but are not limited to:

  • occupant load limits
  • exits and exit components
  • seating and furniture arrangements
  • fire alarms
  • emergency lighting
  • sprinklers
  • accessibility
  • signage
  • a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation

Indoor Places of Assembly

Indoor places of assembly are typically an accessory to a primary occupancy such as offices, educational, institutional or community facilities. However, a place of assembly could be an enclosed stand-alone space such as a house of worship, an arena, a banquet hall, or theaters. Rooftops or rooftop terraces, including open spaces at 20 feet or more above or below grade occupied as places of assembly, are considered to be indoor spaces.

Outdoor Places of Assembly

These are typically outdoor gatherings, including arcades, bazaars, cafes, carnivals, exhibits, street fairs, public plazas, grandstands, or open air stadiums. The Building Code requires a place of assembly certificate of operation for outdoor venues of 200 persons or more.

Temporary Places of Assembly (TPA)

For temporary public or private events, held indoors or outdoors, such as trade shows, concerts or private gatherings held for a limited duration, a temporary place of assembly permit is required. The Building Code requirements in place for a place of assembly are also applicable for a temporary place of assembly. A Temporary Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation is required to ensure the health, safety and welfare of large crowds attending these events. The Fire Code has operational requirements for a TPA, also referred to in the Fire Code as a public gathering.

Events requiring a Temporary Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation often include installation of temporary structures used for an event or for a space that will not be permanently used as a place of assembly. A TPA that includes use of temporary structures may also require a separate Renovation project application. Temporary structures include, but are not limited to, tents, grandstands, and bleachers in place for 30 days or more.

*Note: See Project Guidelines for Temporary Structures.*

Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PACO)

Both DOB and the Fire Department (FDNY) oversee the regulation of Place of Assembly spaces.

  • DOB ensures adherence to the Construction Codes by conducting plan review and inspections, and issues an initial PACO at inspection sign-off, which is good for one year.
  • FDNY also requires a ‘PA Permit’ to maintain or operate a place of assembly, which is good for one year.
  • FDNY automatically conducts a required annual inspection of the premises.

Before legal operation, a place of assembly must have a posted capacity sign, as determined by the Certificate of Occupancy. It should read:

OCCUPANCY BY MORE THAN _____ PERSONS IS DANGEROUS AND UNLAWFUL Certificate of Operation No______ Commissioner, (where applicable) Department of Buildings, City of New York.

In addition, the PACO must be posted in a highly visible location within the space.

A copy of the Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation

A PACO must be submitted as a separate application, but is usually associated with a new building or an alteration project. The associated project could entail general construction, new or modified mechanical, emergency power, electrical, elevator, plumbing, sprinkler and/or standpipe systems, which are submitted as separate filings under either an alteration or new building project. The project may require fire alarm, means of egress (life safety plans) and fire protection plans to complete the project.

Changes to Place of Assembly

A new PACO is required for any change of Use Group or Assembly Occupancy type. Existing spaces that are converted to places of assembly or modified places of assembly such as changes to exiting and occupant load, require an amended PACO and approval. An amendment is also required for changes made to an existing place of assembly space that are inconsistent with the current PACO or at renewal. Changes that require an amendment include:

  • physical changes requiring a DOB construction permit
  • changes to the seating layout or other moveable furnishings
  • changes to the name of the establishment.

Any change to a Place of Assembly requires approval from DOB and FDNY.

Project Notes:

  • A separate application for a PACO must be submitted to DOB once the NB or ALT application has been filed and an associated DOB job number has been issued.
  • If a PACO application is filed during the NB or ALT process, the final NB or ALT construction inspection and the PACO inspection may be conducted simultaneously.
  • If a PACO is filed after the final NB or ALT construction inspection has been completed, a separate PA inspection will be conducted.
  • Following submission, both construction and PACO applications are reviewed for Code and zoning compliance.
  • A place of assembly application must reference the associated alteration or new building application.
  • A new Place of Assembly project may require installation of Building Systems, such as plumbing, fire protection, HVAC, emergency power, or gas systems, which would be filed as part of an associated Alteration or New Building Project; See the Building System Guidelines.

*Note: FDNY may require an amended Certificate of Approval for a change of ownership, per FC Appendix A.*

Project Categories:

  1. Building Systems Installation & Modifications

  2. Renovations

  3. Construction Equipment

  4. Alterations

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