The Blue Ribbon Pavilion in Indiana and the gift shop at Mount Rushmore feature doors that are made to perform. Considering that entry doors are among the most frequently used moving parts of a building, it is impressive how long aluminum doors last and how well they perform.
High-traffic entry doors – such as at a store, bank, school or hospitality destination – can experience hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of openings and closings every year. Event venues are designed for large crowds and their doors see intense, frequent traffic.
The Blue Ribbon Pavilion , a 70,575-square-foot building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, is one example. During the 2022 annual Indiana State Fair, more than 830,000 visitors in 18 days passed through its doors. Throughout the year, the doors remain in constant use welcoming attendees to consumer, exhibit, sport, music, trade show and spectator events, as well as private events like corporate gatherings and retreats.
Originally built in 1924 to showcase blue-ribbon sheep, the historic facility was renovated to as a modern, multi-purpose facility.
Hoosier Glass Co. Inc. updated the main entry to include eight pairs of Tubelite® Standard Medium Stile Entrances. The doors’ steel tie-rod construction and continuous hinges enhance their dependable strength and flexibility. Enhancing their durability, the aluminum entrance systems were finished by Linetec using a high-performance PVDF resin-based coating in a medium green color.
Dan Buchanan, vice president and general manager of Hoosier Glass, was the estimator on the Blue Ribbon Pavilion when the doors were installed in 2000. He described the Tubelite entrances as high quality. “A durable, architectural-grade door means it’s for high traffic, it even gets beaten around a little bit.”
When Buchanan last checked, the pavilion’s doors have never been repaired or replaced in the decades since their installation. However, he points out that if they did need repair, it would be an easy and economical project because it is a tie-rod assembled door. “The good thing about a stile-and-rail door like that is if a stile gets damaged, we can replace just the stile,” he explained. “But if you take a welded door, you’d have to replace the whole thing. It’s good for the customer, although I don’t know if everyone realizes just how good it is for them.”
As an installer, Buchanan likes tie-rod doors because they give his company flexibility. He can order vertical stile and horizontal rail materials, and manufacture the doors to the exact sizes he needs.
Another destination that draws millions of people every year has a similar success story of high traffic dependability and longevity. The gift shop at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota has only one public doorway comprised of a pair of Tubelite Standard Narrow Stile Entrance doors with center pivots. Linetec finished the aluminum doors and framing in a clear anodized finish.
Every year, up to 2 million people go through the gift shop’s entryway, twice. The Tubelite doors, installed in 1998, are unusually light-duty choices for such a high-traffic location. Nevertheless, they had served for 20 years before being considered for replacement.
In a situation like this, total replacement is not the only option. Tie-rod assembled doors also can be refurbished, replacing worn parts such as hardware. A local installer can adjust the glass blocks and fasteners to bring door leaves back to square with the openings. Replacing the weathering and seals gives the entryway optimal air tightness. Damage, dents or surface wear from millions of contacts with users cannot be removed or repaired, but badly worn individual elements, such as a rail or a stile, can be replaced on tie-rod doors. This approach may be considerably less expensive than full replacement.
Alternatively, new doors and frames can be ordered to match the adjacent storefronts, or all new framing can be installed to provide a fresh new face for visitors. It is recommended that new door products be used for such high-profile destinations as Mount Rushmore.
Total replacement for one entry does not necessarily mean the end for the existing doors. Often, the old doors can be re-used in other, less public applications. Glazing contractors also can disassembled them and use the parts to repair similar doors. A final purpose for aluminum door components is to recycle the metal for use in a variety of construction, commercial or other purposes from beverage containers to automobiles.
Aluminum is an environmentally friendly material because it can be infinitely recycled with no loss of metallurgical properties. Recycling has been an integral part of aluminum manufacturing for decades. It accounts for much of the “new” aluminum produced, and is one of the major reasons that aluminum remains an affordable architectural material.