Field Notes Fall 2021

A Tough Act…

By Chuck Knickerbocker

When doors and the hardware that makes them work come up, it takes a herculean effort on everyone’s part to integrate them into a successful ending. But you don’t think about that when you pass through one. When you grab the knob or the handle (special hardware designed specifically for that purpose), it’ll swing open and automatically shut behind you (if the right hardware was specified and installed). It can unlock and lock itself in front of you, or behind you once you pass through it (with the right hardware). With the right hardware, it can do all of the above without you even laying a finger on it, if you desire.

It’s one thing to design the glazing systems that go into or onto buildings. It’s another thing to design, detail, fabricate and install doors. Why? Except for jobs where there are multiple phases, no two jobs with doors are ever the same. And usually the difference is some aspect of one or multiple parts of the hardware.

The size of the door can vary. It can swing in one or two directions. Or, it can revolve or slide sideways. Those options each have thousands of options for the hardware that operates the door. The door can also have different glass infills, or it can be solid metal or wood, or a composite material.

And given the weight of an individual leaf, the hinging hardware will vary widely, as well. The hinges can be concealed or offset, or a designer can select minimalist-looking hinges for aesthetic appeal. The closer is driven by the weight of the leaf also. It can be surface-mounted or concealed in the floor or header.

Locks have just as many options: Most are concealed in the door stiles, but they can also be mounted on the bottom or top rail. They can be keyed, they can be electric, they can turn with the twist of your wrist or read a card and unlock. One idea that’s gaining some traction: facial recognition to operate locks and tighten building security.

Pricing doors and hardware is one thing, but the rubber doesn’t hit the road until the door and door frame have to be fabricated and prepped to receive the hardware. Murphy’s Law applies: something’s not going to work or fit or be compatible with something else.

Greg Carney, one of the most respected tech guys at the Glass Association of North America, coined a name for anyone who stopped at a glass installation to try and figure out its particulars—he called them a “glasshole.” There should be one for doors, also, but “door-hole” just doesn’t have the same appeal.

So, as you go on your way into work, to your house, to your kid’s recital, to the supermarket or mall, or even on the way to/from the airport, take a closer look at the doors, if you can. There’s nothing that requires the diligence from design to operation on site like they do.

Chuck Knickerbocker is the curtainwall manager for Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, along with specialty architectural glazing products. With more than 35 years of curtainwall experience, he has worked with numerous architects, building owners and subcontractors from development of schematic design through
installation. He can be contacted via email at

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