Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hold the Door

The goofs, rather than the successes, always seem to linger in my mind.  One such mistake, I find hard to shake.  It was the first job I was involved in with this office where I participated in the planning stages through construction.  It was a three story nursing facility with an existing nightmare of a circulation system.  Anyone wishing to travel from the nursing wings to the adjacent independent living wings had to travel through a stair tower in order to do so.  Not only was that a blatant violation of the building and life safety codes, but it also was extremely inconvenient.  It was virtually impossible to transport anything of any size, such as a bed or even a gurney, through the stair tower.  Not only that, but there was no existing elevator on the skilled care side of that stair.

Sometimes doors are inserted where they just don't make sense.
Our design incorporated a new, hospital sized elevator and totally rerouted the circulation to eliminate walking through the stair to get from one side to the other.  Based on the existing layout, the elevator could only be located in such a way that the connection from the second and third floors was only possible through the dining room.  It was just the nature of the beast.

The goof comes when the Architect provides a 3'-0" door from the elevator vestibule into the dining room.  So the choke point they had in the beginning is essentially the same in the "solution".  I felt like such a heel.  The opening was through what was the exterior masonry wall.  The Contractor priced a wider opening at about ten thousand dollars.  The Owner wasn’t really happy about it.  So I had to bring this news to the Partner-in-Charge, that I had really messed up.  I expected a reprimand, or at least an "I'm very disappointed in you".  But what I got was encouragement not to take it too personally and when I stated it was hard not to, seeing as it was my fault, I heard "Did anyone die as a result of your screw up?"

No, of course no one died because the door was too small.  And as a result of this one door screw up, I have tried to oversize doors on my projects wherever possible.  3'-8" doors are intended to allow skilled nursing beds to move through.  However, the entire bed rarely ever moves outside the room (this was not on the emergency exit route either), because residents are almost always transferred to a wheelchair or stretcher to be moved.  As fate would have it, it was not enough of an inconvenience for anyone to take the initiative to replace that door.  That is, of course, until ten years later when our office completely redesigned skilled care (again) and made an addition to the building that provided a better dining room on all levels.  The space where the existing dining room (and the previously discussed door) was located was completely gutted and reassigned to other functions.  Part of that design included a set of double doors leading to the elevator.  But in my head, even though that door is long gone, I still feel a twinge of guilt.
This one is just for Game of Throne fans.  But he too needs a wide door.

I've tried to tell myself that when one door closes, you can always tear it out as a part of a future project.