As with other aspects of the architectural design process, the design and specification of architectural door openings has become increasingly more technical, more Code driven, more electronic, more interdependent on other design elements, and generally…more difficult.
More demands now than ever are presented to the specifier of door opening components and systems – Life Safety Requirements, Fire Codes, Security and Access Control Needs, Accessibility Code Requirements, and Aesthetic Design Considerations. These oft times conflicting factors demand an integrated and informed approach to door opening design that transcends simply specifying materials, but requires engineering, specific to each circumstance, that is then translated into details, drawings and specification format.
Several methods of compiling the required systems specifications have typically been utilized by Architects and other design professionals. Some architectural firms employ staff who are responsible for producing the complete project specifications – door opening related specifications are written in basic, somewhat general terms and many times are quite similar from project to project. Product manufacturers, sales representatives, and security contractors sometimes provide "free" specifications to Architects – "free" so long as their products are named and specified; usually to the detriment (restricting competitive bidding) or outright exclusion of other manufacturers' equivalent offerings. Security and Access Control system design is often left to electrical engineers, or others, who frequently lack the expertise to provide coordination and integration of those systems with hardware and door specifications.
These methods are in most cases not sufficient in today's design environment. Even one seemingly minor omission or error in specifying necessary components can result in thousands of dollars of additional costs – and cause unnecessary negative reflection on the primary design professional. The cost of such mistakes rises dramatically with, and is directly linked to, the complexity of the affected door openings.
Primary A/E Design Professionals routinely engage the services of Collaborating Design Professionals for many technical design disciplines – Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Landscape, Fire Safety, Acoustical, Lighting Design, etc. It behooves the design professional to consider for many, if not most, projects that the design and specification of security/ door opening systems and components would be best served by engaging a specialized Collaborating Design Professional for that purpose.
DHC is precisely that type of firm. We produce specifications, schedules, and other design documents which accurately, competitively and concisely meet the design criteria determined in collaborative effort with Architect and Owner. We are typically involved early enough in the project to meet with the A/E and /or the Owner’s representative in order to determine product and system functions, type, grade, quality, etc. Specifications are written in the manufacturers’ brands of the Owner's or Architect's preference along with well researched pre-approved “substitutions” (if desired) to assure competitive pricing. We provide documentation as required throughout the design phases, and remain “onboard” for questions, submittal reviews, and consultation on an ongoing basis as the project progresses.
- Architectural Door Hardware Specifications
- Electrified Door Hardware Specifications
Architectural door hardware, or “Finish Hardware”, is an increasingly complex component of building design. Door + Hardware Consultants specializes in selecting and specifying door hardware that meets the Client’s needs for security, function, aesthetics and cost, while complying with the most current regulatory requirements relating to fire/ life safety and accessibility issues. This is a task that is “easier said than done.” It requires a current working knowledge of National, State and local building Codes as well as technical familiarity with hardware manufacturers’ most current products.
- Steel Door and Frame Specifications
- Architectural Wood Door and Frame Specifications
- Aluminum and Glass Entrance Specifications
Complex combinations of door hardware items require close coordination with the design and type of doors that are to receive the hardware. This is particularly true for door openings that are to be fire labeled. Size and type limitations for fire rated door and hardware combinations are quite varied, and are in a constant state of change due to new technologies being introduced by manufacturers regularly. We work from a wealth of specific product knowledge, research new materials capabilities, and develop design specifications to meet all Code and labeling requirements while preserving your aesthetic design intent. Accurate and knowledgeable specification of doors and frames can have a dramatic impact on the finished appearance of the door openings. Proper specification can eliminate many of the exposed hardware items that may be required at fire rated openings, providing the Owner with code compliant, yet aesthetically pleasing door openings. This often overlooked aspect of design usually manifests itself at project completion when it is either too late, or too expensive, to correct.
- Access Control / Security System Coordination
Security has become an issue in virtually every facility designed today. Whether the design incorporates access control, intrusion detection and alarm, closed circuit video surveillance, or a completely integrated system, the inter-relationship of the door openings and hardware is a critical matter. DHC is well versed in the continually evolving area of electronic and electromechanical systems that must be coordinated with security design.
- Detention Door Openings
The design of correctional detention facilities requires specifications for door openings that are far different from conventional doors. Building Code and Life Safety Code application is different, as likewise are the products and systems utilized. DHC has the experience and knowledge to accurately design and specify the necessary components for Detention Door Openings. Both mechanical and electromechanical detention locking systems, as well as other "door specific" items (detention hinges, door operators and closers, sliding door hardware and operators, food pass assemblies, etc.) are specified in an appropriate Division 11 section. Detention Metal Doors and Frames would typically be specified separately either in Division 8 or 11. We also provide the critically required interdisciplinary coordination with the designer of the electronic "Central Control" systems for control and monitoring of facility egress and security. We have experience in meeting and communicating with detention clients -- law enforcement agencies, correctional agencies, etc. We can speak their language and understand their needs and requirements.