Opening the door to parking: High-speed means security

In her book, Pressed for Time (University of Chicago Press, 2014), Judy Wajcman describes the work of researcher John Robinson. Since 1965, Robinson has asked people: “Would you say you always feel rushed, even to do things you have to do, only sometimes feel rushed, or almost never feel rushed?” The number of people reporting they always feel rushed has risen from 25 percent, when the question was first asked, to 50 percent today.

People hate to wait, especially when lines form. For people in a hurry, waiting for a slow garage door to open can seem like an eternity. At the same time, slow-moving doors at workplace parking facilities can translate into decreased employee productivity. High-speed doors convey a respect for the driver’s time adding to satisfaction with the facility and the business or institution associated with it.

High-speed metal slat doors and fabric panel doors are replacing slow solid-panel and rolling-grill doors. Though slower versions are still in use because of their lower cost, designers are discovering the advantages of high-performance, high-speed doors.

High-speed doors can open up to five times faster than conventional doors, some models as fast as 2540 mm (100 in.) per second. This can have significant impact on a number of parking structure access issues.

Architectural design
Rather than just planning for slab on top of slab, today’s designers strive to provide style to parking structures, especially if parking facilities are part of a mixed use complex.

“Garage owners and developers are definitely paying more attention to the aesthetics of facilities today,” says Casey Jones, director of parking services at Boise State University in Idaho and chair of the International Parking Institute (IPI). “The well-designed, pleasing-to-look-at facility is becoming the norm.”

Architects such as Frank Gehry and the firm Herzog & de Meuron have applied their creative eye to designing structures for cars that do not say ‘parking garage.’ In planning the Galen Center sports arena at USC, HNTB wanted to match the style of the parking facility to that of the main project. In its view, the high-speed doors specified for the project worked with the project’s overall design.

Several high-speed door features make them appropriate for any aesthetic, especially for parking garages that are married into an overall stylish project. The durable powder coating on the high-speed roll-up-door aluminum slats can be applied with almost any color, including a simulated wood look.

The high-speed door design also enables the doors to fit tightly in the wall so as not to dominate the façade with hardware. The doors can require as little as 280 mm (11 in.) for headroom. The door runs along a track that is just a few inches wide.

Many are familiar with the grinding and groaning that accompany conventional door operation. Manufacturers have designed their slat roll-up-doors to have no metal-to-metal contact for whisper quiet operation. That makes these high-speed doors not only pleasing to the eye, but also easy on the ears. According to Tullis, “Our doors are often near residential apartments, so quiet operation is highly valued by us and by the tenants.”

Very few people give much thought to the doors as they enter a parking facility—until something goes wrong, either from a security incident or poor door performance. According to Josh Landry with Gables Residential, a developer of high-end multi-unit complexes, “Doors on the parking facility are one of the many items that tenants and owners don’t necessarily think about, but they can be part of the overall positive experience for both tenants and customers.”

Michael F. Watkins is vice president of marketing at Rytec High Performance Doors, a manufacturer of high-speed doors for industrial, commercial, food and beverage, and controlled-temperature environments. Watkins has consulted to the industrial and durable goods industry and has held management positions in marketing, business development, and new product development. He can be reached by e-mail at

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