Door Hardware: Solving the Architect’s Biggest Headache

Jeff Smith
December 5, 2018
Min Read
Door Hardware: Solving the Architect’s Biggest Headache

When it comes to building design, doors are among the most problematic coordination items. I think most architects would agree with that statement. But to the uninitiated, it can sound ridiculous. They’re just doors, right?

In fact, in modern buildings, a door can be a technology platform, and a sort of architectural project in miniature, involving multiple members of the design team.

Security and Door Hardware

Architects work with their clients to select doors that provide the requested look, feel, and function to support the building’s operation. Many of these doors require integrated security controls or monitoring devices. Correct coordination of doors with electronic security controls requires communication between:

  • the architect,
  • the door hardware specifier,
  • the electrical engineer,  
  • the security consultant,
  • the fire code consultant.

Each door and its components must be correctly listed in the door schedule and associated Division 8 specifications so that the work may be correctly bid and implemented without problems or change orders.

In a typical hospital, as just one example, there are a thousand doors, and there may be hundreds with security controls on them. It is vitally important that every door be correctly specified to ensure a successful project. The initial selection of doors sounds simple, but it involves making decisions about:

  • Door type (metal, offset pivot, glass, etc.);
  • Door hardware;
  • Door prep;
  • Electric locking hardware;
  • Hinges;
  • Auto operators;
  • Keying.

Each door must meet requirements for appropriate architectural look and feel, access, fire ratings for rated paths of egress, sight and sound separation. Each team member needs to provide their experienced input in the selection of the appropriate door for each opening.

This complex design puzzle has to be solved on every project, and it takes place fairly late in the process: typically during the Construction Documents phase of work. The work is frequently handed off to a junior architect to learn, as part of their professional growth. As soon as they learn it, they turn it over to the next junior architect to learn the process again, so it's frequently being performed by a trainee not familiar with the process or all the parties involved.

Hold the Door! Best Practices Ahead.

Beginning to see the challenge? Recognizing that development of the door hardware schedule and specifications is not a simple task, TEECOM's security design leaders have put together a list of best practices based on decades of doing this.

These best practices provide a process and checklist for delivering a correctly coordinated bid package. We recommend that architects share this memorandum with their door hardware specifier, and then have their security design consultant perform a secondary review of the door schedule before issuance.

How to use the memorandum:

During Schematic Design or Design Development Phase:

  • The design team reviews the door coordination memorandum.
  • The architect defines who is going to develop the door schedule.
  • If the architect is using a door hardware consultant, the memo and any future door schedules are shared with them.

During Construction Documents Phase:

  • Prior to 50% CDs, the architect issues a door schedule listing the floor, the door, the type, and the door number.
  • The architect sends this schedule to their door hardware scheduler.
  • At the same time, the security consultant sends the security floor plan drawings to the door consultant so they can see which doors have electronic security controls and use this information to write their Division 8 specifications.
  • After the door hardware consultant completes their specifications and any comments they have to the door schedule, they share those specifications with the security consultant.
  • The security consultant reviews the specifications and provides comments; e.g. maybe they’re missing an electronic through-wire hinge on a given door hardware group.
  • Those comments go back to the door hardware consultant, who updates the specifications.
  • The security consultant reconciles the updated specifications with the floor plans and provides drawings and specifications back to the architect as a completely coordinated bid package.

Typically, if door hardware is electrified and requires an alarm contact, we recommend that it be incorporated in the factory. If it’s done in the field it can ruin the door fire rating. This involves some lead time that should be built into the schedule.

TEECOM’s goal is to accomplish 100% accurately coordinated door hardware in two rounds of review and coordination. I’m sure many of us have experienced projects with coordination challenges that have gone through five or more rounds. Memos such as the one below establish expectations early in the design process and help forestall issues. TEECOM also provides our clients with pre-written memos about how to coordinate elevators with security, and gates and roll-up grilles with security and fire/life safety.