Pieces of the Puzzle: Architectural Choices – Entry Doors

Editor’s Note: CEM is launching a new series of articles in place of our past Architecture, Construction & Design Update. This series will profile one particular feature that goes into the building and construction of a new casino. Significant to our entrance into this new series, our first feature is casino entrance doors. On the following pages, you’ll find out which vendors provide this particular feature, as well as notable architects’ opinions of these features. So if you’re looking to replace your own casino’s doors, or are starting a new project and want to see what your options are, we’re here to help.

Why entry doors are important is a no-brainer. It’s the guest’s first impression! Before they see any stunning interior work, they’ll walk up to the entry door, beginning their impression of your casino’s brand. So your doors should evoke an exciting welcome to each person passing through.

Dennis Elrod, AIA, project architect and associate for Hnedak Bobo Group Architects, comments: “From a design standpoint, casino doors, in particular, are part of an overall entry experience designed to invoke excitement and anticipation for gaming patrons expecting to be fully entertained at our clients’ casinos. Beyond that, casino entry doors are required for efficient—and safe—building ingress and egress, and many code issues involve entry/exit doors.”

So when you buy new doors, you need to buy smart. Many considerations should be given to your points of entry. Aesthetics, function, weather and durability are just some of the key concerns to keep in mind.

William M. Dow Jr., principal and director for JCJ Architecture, notes: “The door itself is only a component of the system for a good entrance. The hardware is also critical to a successful installation. A common problem is wind drafts forcing entry doors open, as there are limits to the resistive pressure allowed to ‘hold’ a door closed for ease of operation and accessibility. Designers often wish to avoid latching systems at entry doors, and the push-pull is a common entry system, but it allows for such wind issues. Entrances must be designed to alleviate such problems.”

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Vee Quiva Casino – Gila River Casinos, Chandler, AZ. © Thorney Lieberman.
ut Elrod says the most important concern should be the volume of people you expect will move through the doors. “This would impact maintenance, durability and energy efficiency,” he explains. “Also, one should consider whether the specific climate will dictate the need for an entry vestibule. Entry doors should provide proper barrier from external weather elements with the least amount of effect on the interior climate.”

After you consider what your needs are, the next logical question is, what are your door options? From beautiful carved wood, to all-glass, to swinging, revolving or sliding, the combinations could go on and on.

Ryan Lovelle, construction manager for Cuningham Group, says he is partial to all-glass entrance doors so that the guest can experience the interior of the facility from the exterior.

Dow agrees, adding that: “It allows for good visual clearance for a large and active patron population, and fewer incidences of entry/egress conflict or accidents. We typically recommend decoration on the glass, or custom-designed door pulls, often utilizing branded logos from the property.”

Elrod says swinging doors are the easiest to install. They may or may not require electrical interface. And the most complex to install are revolving or automatic sliding doors. “These often tie into complex alarm systems and electrical systems, and also constantly require adjustment to function properly,” he says. But a revolving door helps create a vacuum that shields the interior from the exterior climate, and is the most energy efficient.

However, he warns that: “All components of the casino experience must complement the owner’s vision and the design team’s conceptual design. Where we may use more ornate wooden doors for one project, based on design theme or brand, a more modern design may use a more simple glass entry door. We also make it a point to think of every entrance as a chance to generate anticipation, but it must flow into a cohesive story of the casino design.”

Which brings us to selecting your vendor. Lovelle says that it’s important to keep in mind the types of materials that can be used to create the door, warranty plan, price point, security and hardware options.
And Elrod suggests considering whether the manufacturer has reputable local installers who can maintain the doors on a regular basis. Elrod also advises to not forget about back doors, because they need a “wow” factor, too. By neglecting back doors, guests entering through a parking garage may be losing that experience that front-door guests get. Hnedak Bobo capitalized on this with the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, Wis., where a sky bridge leads to a bright welcome wall. “Our advice when selecting casino entry doors, is make a statement with ALL your entry doors,” he closes with.

So on the following pages, read about some of the vendors that provide entry doors and other similar features for casinos and architects. For reasons such as great customer service, reliability and expert detail, these vendors were recommended to us by the architects mentioned in this story.

TruStile Doors
Founded in 1995, TruStile Doors is the nation’s leading manufacturer of premium stile and rail MDF (medium density fiberboard) and wood doors for residential and commercial applications. As a made-to-order door manufacturer, TruStile offers more than 400 standard door styles, and can custom build virtually any door design. TruStile can fulfill every door application, from exterior entry doors to all interior doors, including 20- through 90-minute fire rated doors.

Chuck Tamblyn, senior vice president of marketing and customer support, says: “TruStile believes that all of the doors in casinos and resorts represent a critical design element that should not be overlooked. While TruStile can provide elaborate custom entry doors for casinos to provide for that perfect grand entrance, we primarily specialize in providing all of the interior doors, including public area doors, hotel room entry doors and all of the doors within the hotel room.”

Top designers turn to TruStile when they require premium, custom-built doors in eye-catching designs. Some of TruStile’s high-profile projects include the Wynn Las Vegas Resort and the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Both feature very unique custom doors that match and enhance their architectural styling. Other notable projects include The Palazzo in Las Vegas and Agua Caliente in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

“TruStile builds our MDF and wood doors with authentic stile and rail construction, which gives them sharp architectural details and crisp clean lines when compared to inferior ‘molded skin’ or ‘routed’ doors,” Tamblyn notes. “Our advanced manufacturing plants and custom construction technique also give us superior flexibility versus competitive products that are often limited in terms of style and size options.”
Some of the options you’d have with TruStile are stile and rail wood doors in virtually any wood species for stained applications, and designer glass and resin options including decorative glass from Bendheim and eco resin options from 3Form.

Another plus: The products are eco-friendly. MDF doors are SCS certified to contain 82 percent recycled material and are available with a no-added-formaldehyde MDF. And its wood doors are available with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, verifying they originate from responsible sources.
The company’s doors come backed by a lifetime warranty.

At a Glance
Company headquarters: Denver, Colo.
Number of employees: 175
Years in business: 15
Types of doors offered: Interior and exterior doors with premium stile and rail construction
Specialty: High-quality custom built doors for residential and commercial applications
Website: www.trustile.com.

C.R. Laurence Co. Inc.

C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. (CRL) is a leading supplier to the glazing, railing, architectural, construction, industrial and automotive industries. Offering more than 50,000 products, the company is in 25 locations throughout North America, Europe and Australia.

John O’Brien, brand manager – architectural hardware, explains that CRL also designs, engineers, and manufactures a wide variety of architectural hardware, including commercial and residential architectural railings, hardware for “all-glass” commercial entrances, transaction hardware and shower door hardware.

O’Brien believes entry doors are important for two reasons: performance and pizzazz. “With the large amount of traffic going through the entry doors into a casino, it is important that the doors and related hardware operate properly with minimal maintenance and provide visual appeal to the entry,” he states. “CRL provides high-quality products and innovative ideas that meet both these requirements.”

CRL’s standard door hardware is thoroughly tested to meet the demands of high-traffic use. Additionally, the company is ISO9000:2008 certified.

O’Brien explains that CRL has a rapid customization process for quickly answering customers’ needs. “We have a large in-house group of dedicated engineers and designers whose sole function is to develop custom products as quickly and accurately as possible, while offering the best value for the price,” he says.

All of CRL’s products are easy to install, adjust and maintain, like its DRS Door Rail System. These rails allow the flexibility to make field adjustments to the height, easily replace glass or make clearance adjustments for settling buildings.

“If your budget allows, don’t settle for the ordinary, but instead reach for the extraordinary,” O’Brien advises. “Let CRL work with you at the design stage of the project and we can help you create the entrance of your dreams.”

At a Glance
Company headquarters: Los Angeles
Number of employees: More than 1,000
Years in business: Almost 50
Types of doors offered: All-glass entrance systems; stacking partition systems; balanced doors; overhead glass sliding and bi-fold doors; panic, deadbolt and electronic egress control handles
Specialty: Design, engineer and manufacture entrance hardware and systems
For sales info: Contact Paul Daniels, VP of sales at corporate headquarters in Los Angeles.
Website: www.crlaurence.com.

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