Texas A&M University-San Antonio students and employees entered the Central Academic Building through new sliding glass doors on Jan. 24 after months of troubles with the large copper doors.
An email from A&M-San Antonio University Communications on Jan. 20 to students and faculty said the CAB building copper doors would be undergoing required maintenance Jan. 20-24.
Both the north and south entrance doors leading to the foyer of the building were blocked off during that time. Students were asked to use alternate entrances including the cafeteria, student lounge and side entrances.
The doors were to be “back online,” according to the email; however, automatic sliding doors were installed to the main entrances of the building. The large copper doors were propped open, allowing students, employees and visitors to enter through the new doors.
“We did want the students to see that something new was coming as a permanent fix. Not just simply maintenance,” said Trevor Liddle, director of operations for business affairs.
The original email regarding maintenance was intended to let students know to make alternate arrangements to enter the building and surprise them with the new solution to the broken copper doors, Liddle said.
The main entrance doors of CAB have been experiencing difficulties since last August. The footpad in front of the entrance, which is designed to automatically open the doors when someone steps onto it, had not been working properly, forcing students to pull open the heavy doors themselves.
“It has been in the works for a while,” Liddle said. “We went through and did a number of exercises. We reached out to the original architect to find the best solution. By doing that, we were able to make sure that we were able to maintain the integrity of the design.”
Geof Edwards, lead designer of CAB and principal at Muñoz and Company, said the CAB doors were inspired by cathedral in Granada, Spain. Many buildings in Europe have grand entrances and more industrial doors inside, Edwards said.
“We felt it’s pretty much in keeping with what’s seen in big cathedrals all over Europe,” Edwards said.
The sliding doors help ensure efficiency and preserve the integrity of the architecture, Edwards said.
“We do expect that this solution solves a number of problems,” Liddle said. “One of the most conspicuous ones is when they’re not working and we have to have maintenance and service done on those doors. It will be a benefit across the board in a variety of metrics.”
The new sliding doors are more cost-efficient, Liddle said. Over the past three years, maintenance on the large copper doors totaled over $20,000 compared with the installation of the new sliding doors at $26,000.
“It wasn’t the footpad that was the issue with the copper doors,” Liddle said. “It was the actual closer and opener unit that operated the door. The door operator just wasn’t built to withstand the amount of use in and out functions on a daily, hourly and minute basis.”
The weather affected how well the original CAB doors opened and closed.
“…those doors were fighting the wind,” Liddle said. “So they closed really well. And when the doors opened successfully on the southside, the pressures in the building would sometimes change and open the north doors. This won’t happen anymore.”
Miguel Castro, Student Government Association senator and political science senior, said he is happy with the new sliding doors after months of facing difficulties entering CAB.
Castro uses a wheelchair. As a disability liaison, he advocates creating a better school environment for students.
“I think it’s a big change and a good change for everyone on campus,”Castro said.
According to Castro, he wishes that the change would have happened sooner but is thrilled that there is now a permanent fix to the broken doors.
Students have expressed their approval with the solution to the broken doors.
”I miss the copper doors. I wish they would have fixed the copper doors instead, but those work,” math senior Nia Cromartie said of the sliding doors. “I think the copper helped with the temperature control a little, but I’m just glad that they (the school) did something.”
The large copper doors will remain propped open. There are no plans to remove them as they were an original design element of the building, Liddle said. The footpads will also remain to indicate the entrance of the building. Removing or replacing them in the future is a possibility.
Liddle said the new design improves the entrance and the building itself.
“It is a better solution universally,” Liddle said. “It allows the building to maintain its temperature better. It allows people to enter and leave the building easier.”
Brigid Cooley contributed to this story.