What’s the Deal With Doors?

There’s a lot going on behind this elemental building component, and there’s a lot that architects need to consider.

Jack Balderrama Morley Jack Balderrama Morley

Each week, Architizer is highlighting a different building product and how to specify it. This week’s topic is doors. If you’re looking for the perfect door for your next project, search for it on Source, Architizer’s new network marketplace for building products. Click here to sign up now — it’s free for architects.

You could say this week will be a portal to a new world of knowledge, every article will take you over the threshold of discovery and new projects will help you really get a handle on things. What is this week about? Doors.

But what, I hear you ask, is so special about doors?

Kuiken Brothers showroom, image via Kuiken Brothers

We use doors every day, but we almost never think about them. How many doors do you open without considering the centuries of technological development that resulted in the modern hinge, the ergonomic care put into designing a door handle or the delicate finesse with which the door was hung?

There’s a lot going on behind this elemental building component, and there’s a lot that architects need to consider.

Are they fire-rated? Wood core? Metal core? Glass? Frameless? Double swing? Hidden hinge? Pivot hinge? Double hung? Pocket? Barn? Hidden? Automatic? Double? French? Dutch? Flush? Revolving? Folding? Interior? Exterior? Bulletproof? Blast-proof? Bear-proof?

NanaWall’s BEARricade bear-proof door

Every kind of door has different challenges and opportunities. Often afterthoughts to larger ideas about massing, materials and plan layouts, doors rarely get the chance to sing as design objects, but when designers harness their power, there’s enough in these humble instruments to produce symphonies.

Olson Kundig’s 242 State Street

As is the case with a lot of building products, the simplest doors are often the most complicated. A simple frameless and hingeless door might not look like much, but underneath that clean exterior is a menagerie of mechanisms and channels, all carefully orchestrated to make themselves completely invisible.

A Xinnix frameless door and how it’s made, images via Xinnix Door Systems

There are dozens of parts in every door, each with its own story, function and funky little name (consider the astragal). Hinges and locks alone have histories dating back millennia that tell the story of the growth of human civilization.

How’s an architect to know where to begin?

Exploded diagram of typical glass door components, image via Andersen

We’ll investigate all that this week on Architizer and more besides.

Whether you are detailing a door for the first time, specifying them for a million-square-foot project or looking for inspiration for a custom showstopper, our upcoming articles will help get you through.


Having a nightmare specifying the ideal doors for your latest project? Save time, money and your sanity by searching on Source, our premier online marketplace for architects. Click here to sign up now.

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