There are now many door options available to architects when designing commercial, public or educational buildings. These can be manual, automatic, or a combination of both, but the underlying needs and requirements are likely to be the same e.g. effective, safe, and easy for the user. Revolving Doors made their first appearance in a New York Restaurant in 1899 but there’s Patent evidence to suggest that a Philadelphia resident actually thought of the idea over 10 years earlier. So why over 100 years later is this idea still so relevant and so widely used?
Revolving doors essentially consist of a series of 3 or 4 panels which are also known as wings or leaves. These panels are attached to a central vertical shaft around which they rotate. The whole structure is enclosed in a cylindrical structure and the panels are spaced in such a way that in normal operation the door is never really open i.e. there is no clear direct passage from the street into the building which can bypass the panels. The panels and enclosure generally incorporate glass for safety as well as aesthetic reasons. The glass allows people to see others using the door and to regulate their movements accordingly.
Automatic versions have a powered central shaft and use sensors to stop and start the door in potentially unsafe situations. There is generally a speed control feature, and the doors themselves can be folded back to create a clear space through the opening for emergency situations or for moving large objects in or out of a building. The direction that the doors revolve actually differs in different counties. For example the predominant movement of UK revolving doors is clockwise with a right hand side entry. In Australia and New Zealand however the situation is reversed. In U.S. in the 1940s a fire in a popular Boston nightclub meant that lives were lost because there was only one revolving door as an exit. Since then revolving doors have been made collapsible, and a hinged door of equivalent capacity is generally placed next to the revolving door. This other door also assists with disabled access.
These doors have an obvious aesthetic appeal and can enhance the look of a building. They provide energy and they save money. This is because they are never actually open as they allow people to enter and leave a building. This means that valuable heat is not lost, and any air conditioning balance is maintained. In very tall buildings the revolving doors stop the effect of air being sucked up and down through the building through the vents and doorway depending on the different temperatures inside and outside. These doors are very effective at keeping a regulated flow of people in and out of a building which enhances safety, and they are easy for people to use particularly if they are carrying bags and other objects. Their one way operation means that they can also be very useful for security where certain areas can’t be bypassed or avoided or where a certain direction flow is necessary e.g. airports.