Why So Heavy, UCSF?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Our inaugural column was published several weeks ago with an invitation to weigh in with your everyday irritations, and we’re happy to say that we’ve received our very first rant submission!

Here it goes:

Dear Ray,

I am a 3rd year BMS PhD student. The topic of my rant suggestion is the extreme heaviness of many doors here at UCSF (Parnassus Medical Sciences and Mission Bay Genentech Hall would be two prime examples).

In addition to frequently leaving me confused and annoyed, I believe these heavy doors to be a potential safety hazard: if I ever forget to brace myself and assume a proper wide-legged stance when opening said doors, then chances are pretty good that instead of pulling the door towards my body I will end up pulling my body into contact with the door.

My annoyance would be subdued significantly if I were given but one reason why the doors must so heavy but alas, this is not the case and my frustration persists.



Dear Thomas,

Never did I imagine that I would research so extensively the subject of doors and door hinges, but regretfully, I have. So let me rant along with you.

First, to check the validity of your frustration, I went around campus to make sure that this was an issue. Upon thorough observation and opening of doors, I discovered that you’re right! These are some of the heaviest doors I’ve ever pulled on.

I’d never noticed myself getting into the tae-kwon do horse riding stance, but it explains why my squats have been going down more smoothly since arriving here.

Ranking each set of doors on their opening difficulty, I have established that the front doors of Parnassus Medical Sciences building rank similar to those of the Wall of the North (for you non-Game of Thrones fans, what I mean is these doors seem meant to keep people out rather than letting them in).

The doors to Nurseteria across our Sander’s Wasteland rank high as well. With some that I’ve never seen open and others requiring a low squatting technique, I've rated the Nurseteria's door-opening capacity to be somewhere between "hard" and "impossible."

Lastly, the double set of doors to Moffitt Cafeteria from second floor Parnassus are almost impossible to go through without having one door close behind you before opening the other.

Considering these the most common vexing doors, I will break each problem down logically and try my best to subdue your annoyance.

Let’s get started with the one that seems most intuitive: The Moffitt Cafeteria doors.

These are not meant to be opened quickly but instead act to reduce the speed of incoming traffic during the lunch rush. Think of the doors as a set of traffic lights — like the ones that control vehicles merging onto a highway.

Sure, you often find multiple people stuck in between the two sets of doors while some brave souls try to keep the door open long enough for the next person. But you’ll also notice that the system doesn’t allow the cafeteria to be quite as jammed as it could be — and may even help avoid collisions.

The Nurseteria and front Parnassus doors were not quite as intuitive and required a bit more mulling over to figure out.

It struck me while pondering why doors at malls are so cumbersome as well that heavy doors have been landmark characteristics within architecture throughout history.

I realized that their dense metals and materials, and impressive design and grandeur declare the importance of what lays beyond. Only problem is, I haven’t been able to figure out what great thing there is to behold in the Nurse’s cafeteria.

So continuing on my quest to learn why some campus doors are so hard to open, I take one last stab: maybe it’s the heat expansion of the hinges that make doors more subject to friction. Yes, this seems the most likely reason. Get on that UCSF!

On the bright side…

Heavy doors have long been an issue for people with disabilities, and it’s clear that each one on UCSF campuses are equipped with electrical door openers. So it seems that someone already ranted about this years ago. Well done.