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Doors: Rolling, Bifold and Walkthrough

Big Ideas in Building Design: Large, Dramatic Doors Enhance Without Sacrificing Efficiency

There are few elements in architectural design that can produce the jaw-dropping effect that a 30- by 20-foot (9- by 6-m) door can when raised to reveal a building interior. Where applicable to the project, this moving part on a building façade lends distinctiveness and creates an experience to those using or viewing the facility.

More than enhancing building design, a large, strategically placed door enables a facility to realize the purpose of the space. While an enormous gap in the wall could be interpreted as an energy loss threat, a large door actually can help a building become more efficient.

Educational Effect

Boston Children's Museum is an example of a building that is accomplishing its mission by using the building itself as part of the teaching experience. Not only did the building attain LEED Gold certification, but its ambitious program of energy reduction is packaged conveniently in an informative, one-of-a-kind educational experience.

This renovated warehouse on Boston's Fort Point Channel has a number of eco-friendly features, from its green roof covered in plants and organic material to the water reclamation system that reduces demand for potable water by 77 percent.

At ground level are two 21 1/3-foot- (6.5- m-) wide by 20 7/12-foot- (6.3-m-) high glass covered bifolding doors. Not only do the doors complement the building's façade, they are an integral part of the project's LEED compliance.

The doors are part of the museum's goal to connect viewers and programs to the waterfront while completely blending into the overall look of the new façade. They also support the museum's green mission by enhancing natural light and viewing capabilities for the new spaces.

As an integral part of the high window wall, the full height glazing on the doors reduces energy requirements by reducing the need for artificial lighting in the lobby. Along with using daylight for illumination, the doors are glazed with 1-inch- (25-mm- ) thick high performance double-pane glass, trapping the sun's heat to reduce winter heating and summer cooling costs.



Play Ball

Baseball parks rarely are regarded as energy saving opportunities. The Dow Chemical Co., sponsor of its hometown Dow Diamond minor league baseball stadium in Midland, Mich.- home of the Great Lakes Loons-applied energy- saving technology toward providing a facility that is leading the league in conservation.

One of the most environmentally friendly stadiums in the world, Dow Diamond features motion sensor lighting; solar energy powered by Dow Corning and its subsidiary Hemlock Semiconductors Corp.; energy-saving Styrofoam polystyrene insulation; and creative use of recycled materials, including the crushed brick from one of Dow's research facilities for the outfield's warning track.

Unlike many stadiums that have an open-air concourse, Dow Diamond's is enclosed during the off-season using 10 29- by 16-foot (9- by 5-m) vertical glass and plastic-covered bifolding doors.

"The doors have allowed us a great opportunity to sell usage of the facility year round while providing constant exposure to the stadium, which, in turn, helps us solidify our fan base," said Chris Mundhenk, the Loons' assistant general manager of marketing and promotions.

During the off-season, the concourse is heated to just 60 F (15 C). The doors have thermo pane glass on the lower section, in addition to thermo pane plastic on the upper section within the doors' architectural aluminum tube framing.

"The idea is the sun will beam into the concourse, and through a greenhouse effect, warm the area to 70 degrees [21 C] while the doublepane glass in the door traps the heat," said Fred Eddy, project manager.

Advances for Aeronautics

While aerospace students study to build the aircraft of the future at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., they also are conducting research in a facility that emulatesthe environment of an aircraft hangar, featuring a 23 7/12-foot- (7-m-) wide by 16 2/3-foot- (5-m-) high vertical bifolding door much like those used at airfields. The difference is that in this case, the door has a Kawneer 1600 Wall System from Kawneer, Norcross, Ga., to hold blue tinted windows on a lightweight-yet strong-6061 T6 aircraft structural tubing aluminum frame.

The door was designed with as much attention to detail as the projects that take place inside the three-story Robert C. Seamans Jr. addition to the 50,000-square-foot (4,645-m2) Daniel Guggenheim Aeronautical Building. The door's 1-inch windows' (two 1/4-inch [6-mm]) laminated glass panels-with an energy-saving 1/2-inch (13-mm) air space in between on the door-cut both noise and ultraviolet rays going into the building, enhancing the learning environment. Efficiency Opportunities

These projects clearly demonstrate that in situations that call for a large opening, the door does not have to dominate the look of the building; rather, it can enhance the design and contribute to the building's sustainability.

Mark Blanchard is the vice president of sales and marketing at Hufcor Inc., Janesville, Wis. Blanchard has more than 20 years of sales experience in the construction industry at the contractor, distributor and manufacturing levels. For more information, visit