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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 4, 2010

The rest of the story on those UH doors

By Lee Cataluna

This story has been making the rounds at the University of Hawai'i- Mänoa campus and the state Legislature:

The doors in the Art Building were replaced, but the new doors that were ordered didn't fit, so instead of sanding or trimming the doors down, UH dug out the concrete floor in the door jambs to make the new doors work.


The story is true, and it brings up all sorts of bad associations, like the UH softball stadium that was built with 90 percent of the seats having obstructed views. But there's more to the door story when the facilities guy explains it.

The three-story Art Building, built in 1974, has an atrium and open-air walkways, so many of the doors were exposed to the elements. The old steel doors and frames had become rusted and damaged and were to be replaced by doors made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

Tom Katsuyoshi, of the university Facilities Management Office, wrote a detailed explanation of the Door Situation:

"As the demolition work (removal of the existing doors and frames) commenced, it was discovered that the bottoms of the door frames did not sit flush with the floor slab as per normal construction practice. It was, in fact, embedded in the concrete slab up to 1 3/4 inches deep. To remove the frames, the concrete around the bottom of the frames had to be cut and chipped out."

In some places, the floor was uneven, causing the doors to scrape or get stuck, so rather than cut down the fiberglass doors, crews chipped down the concrete slab.

" the new doors and frames were ordered based on visual due diligence by the consultant indicating that the new doors and frames could be ordered based on the dimensions of the existing doors and frames and standard construction practices. It would have been virtually impossible for the consultant to know that the existing frames were actually embedded in the floor slab, or that the rough openings would be too tight in some instances. Only upon actual removal of the existing frames would the conditions become apparent The doors and frames that were ordered were NEVER 'the wrong size,' nor was the chipping and grinding of the concrete the result of having to accommodate 'wrong-sized' doors."

There is something essentially funny about digging up a floor to make a door fit, but unexpected things do happen in construction, and at least a work-around was found. When you look at the end result, the fix is fairly subtle, though all the cement- chipping must have been maddening to those who use the building.

But the whole matter speaks to the mood on campus, where money is tight and close attention is being paid to every leaky faucet, construction snafu and misfit door.