We all know great design when we experience it. Good building design is functional, durable, sustainable and pleasing to the eye. But great design can't exist without deliberate intent, careful planning, and thoughtful implementation.
So, where do doors and door openings fit into the plan? Designers sometimes leave door opening design as an afterthought — even leaving it as something for the contractor to determine. But if this is the case with your design process, then you and your clients are missing out on a wide range of design opportunities.
Door openings are the most frequent and intimate point of contact for people entering, exiting, and moving throughout a building. Proper door openings are essential in providing the safety, privacy, acoustics, aesthetics, thermal efficiency and ease of access needed for a good impression and experience.
Doors and hardware are integral to successful design and should be considered early in the concept and space planning of the building. This is especially true as door openings become increasingly complicated in the design details. The right door solution can help or hinder the look, comfort, security, cleanliness, and use of a building. Only through effective design will a door opening work appropriately for the space.
Opening design shouldn't be something that waits until the end of the project, and contractors won't be able to interpret all the opening requirements without a well-thought-out plan. A designer is able to look at the total opening in context, and decide what the opening needs to do.
Some of the first considerations include answering how the opening needs to look and function. Are there specific decor and color requirements? Should the opening include windows or lights? Is this a secure or weather-proof opening? Will access control be involved? Does the opening require an acoustic quality? Will gaskets and sealants be required? Are there any special code or ADA requirements for an opening?
All of these considerations — and more — must be addressed early in the design phase. A designer must think through and project how a space must serve the building occupants, and every detail has to be considered.
With an access controlled opening, for example, the access control device on the door often needs to integrate with other electrical systems in the building. Does the system need to be hard-wired or WiFi compatible? Will the system be battery operated, hard-wired for power, or PoE compatible? This single feature of an opening can impact many other building systems.
Again, the earlier these and other design considerations are addressed, the more effectively the door opening can be designed; ensuring a comfortable, appropriate, safe and secure experience for occupants and visitors alike.
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