According to Multifamily Executive, the Core & Shell typology, or Tower as they refer to it, is “invariably of Type-1 construction, meaning concrete and/or steel, and access depends exclusively on elevators, exit stairs, ventilation shafts, and other building services. Residential tower floor plates are generally smaller than those of office towers and can range from less than 8,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet or larger, with many in the 12,000- to 15,000-square-foot range. […]

Even when efficiently designed, the tower is among the most expensive residential building typologies to build. Given the tower’s cost, difficulties with entitlement, and the densities that can be obtained with the podium, it’s often advisable to do a comparative analysis between the two before proceeding.”

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Solving for Envelope and Set Back Requirements

How to Draw Buildings in Giraffe

Mixed Purpose Floors

Let’s explore how to design a Core & Shell product in Giraffe with this easy step-by-step guide.


Consider Requirements and Assumptions

By the nature of the scale of typical Core & Shell construction, this typology is best reserved for high-density areas. Unlike Podium or Wrap projects, Core & Shell are more often majority office space or hospitality (hotel) than they are purely residential towers, although in some very dense cities the high-rise residential tower may be more common.

For high-rise towers, the allowable building envelope is often complex. Explore the frontage and setback requirements in your jurisdiction’s code. Understand the prescribed setbacks at various heights, as setbacks must usually step further as the building height rises. This may be determined by percentage or specific distance, depending on the jurisdiction.

<aside> 💡 You may want to create an allowable envelope geometry to guide your design. review Solving for Envelope and Set Back Requirements for assistance.


It is also helpful to visualize the zoning overlays and parcels on the map for context. Consider loading in Layers that demonstrate neighborhood information. Search your municipality’s open data resources to find applicable layers by Import Non-Native Data.

Giraffe has curated thousands of public data layers, and you can also add your own.

To add layers from the layer library

Create Usages

Giraffe connects the geometry you draw with the data you see through the concept of a Usage.

Usages enable you to compile a database of standards and assumptions. This allows your team to apply the same data to multiple geometries within a project - from giving all the residential buildings the same buildCost to making all annotations blue.