During the November break, the wooden doors to the main entrance of Peirce Hall were replaced with lighter-weight doors made from a composite material.
The doors have been replaced for issues related to security, accessibility and the maintenance of the electronic door openers.
Increasingly, the solid wood doors pose a security risk as they swell or shrink with changing weather conditions and then fail to close fully behind students departing the building late at night. The resulting door alarm forces campus safety officers to detour repeatedly from their nightly foot patrols to re-secure the building, leaving less time to patrol other areas of campus.
Maintaining a reliably accessible entrance is difficult with the heavier wooden doors. Even able-bodied students frequently use the operators. Overuse, combined with the extreme weight of the doors, stresses the electronic openers, resulting in time-consuming repairs, during which students have no accessible front entrance. These repairs are costly. Since their installation in 2008, we have replaced or rebuilt both door openers almost every year, at a total cost of more than $50,000.
A different door opener is not an option. Due to the shape of the door opening and the custom shape of the door, there is no standard automatic door opener for these doors. These door openers are custom made in Germany and are positioned in the floor underneath the door.
The doors removed from Peirce are not the originals. They were manufactured some time in the 1980s, then rebuilt once in the late 1990s and again during the Peirce renovation of 2007.
The College spent 10 months searching for a composite door that would match the aesthetic of the wooden doors across campus. A door made of the same materials was successfully piloted last year at Hill Theater.
The original doors of Peirce were the same color as the new doors, consistent with the color of doors on Ascension, Old Kenyon and other older buildings on campus.