Closing the Door on Bad Design

There’s a popular saying that good design is invisible. With that in mind, take a look at this photo and see if you can identify what’s wrong with these fire doors?

Door closer design done wrong

In this case (if you’re still stumped) it’s that the door closers on these newly installed fire doors are mounted on the wrong side of the door, adding unnecessary visual clutter when there’s a simple design solution. This architect specified a “pull” style of door closer.

A door closer is a spring-loaded hydraulic device that closes a door automatically when the electricity to the magnet holding the door open is shut off when the fire alarm is triggered. There are a number of different door closer styles to pick from, but a good designer will specify a “push” model in an instance like this. One that’s hidden from view when the doors are open, which is how people will see them most of the time.

Here’s a photo of how it would look with “push” type closers installed behind the doors. (thanks to Photoshop)

Door closer design well using

Should there be a designer jail? Would this warrant a short stay? We’re joking about the jail of course. But a good architect or designer will tell you, if you’re going to do something, take the time to do it right. First impressions and details really do matter.

What do you think? Have you seen any bad design that you want to share?

Mike Hilliard is a co-founder and principal of Hilliard Architects. He has been practicing architecture in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1976. Mike is the lead project architect, designer and a medical planner. He is a CASp accessibility specialist, building codes expert and has extensive diagnostic experience. As a puzzle-solver extraordinaire and our resident building scientist, Mike brings technical excellence to design.