Any gathering space that would be used, even occasionally, with an open plan (without chair seating or tables and chairs) will be seen as having one occupant for every 5 square feet. That means that a room with a floor area of only 250 square feet would have 50 occupants.
Church worship areas, or similar spaces that would always have chair seating, will be considered to have one occupant for every 7 square feet. Table and chair seating areas will have one occupant for every 15 square feet.
Once the occupant load reaches 100, then the gathering place is required to have a sprinkler system. For multipurpose/open spaces that is only a floor area of 500 square feet.
You can expect to make some significant life safe improvements to any building that you are converting to an assembly occupancy, including: two well separated exit doors that swing out in the direction of exit travel and an emergency power system that keep the exit ways lit in case of power failure. In almost all cases, a fire separation is required between assembly occupancies and any other uses in the building.
For more information on how the occupant load of your particular use might be calculated, and what types of life safety improvements might be required, visit the Development Services Center with a rough layout, and meet with a Life Safety Reviewer.
Separate restroom facilities will be required for men and women.