Last Look

Hefty

In the Becton Center, a door an engineer could love.

Bob Handelman

Bob Handelman

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Weighing in at 9,500 pounds, the door to Ground Café, in the Becton engineering center, took some engineering. It’s 11 feet tall, and the pattern repeats for another six feet, all the way to the ceiling. The door was custom-made to the specifications of architects Bentel & Bentel, who designed the café in 2013. Its large, evenly spaced holes echo smaller perforations throughout the café’s interior. “We wanted to make reference in the design to something that engineers might find familiar, that might resonate with them,” says Peter Bentel. They based the design on a prototyping board used by engineers in their labs—“essentially a piece of metal with an even pattern of holes.”

Because an 11-foot-high stainless steel door is too heavy to push or pull easily, the architects hid a mechanism in the transom to assist Ground Café’s customers. “You can go up, pull on the handle, and open the door,” says Bentel. “You don’t think it’s 9,500 pounds.” They made sure, he adds, that it wouldn’t open too quickly: “Imagine the momentum.”  

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