Why Are There Revolving Doors?

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The wheels on the bus aren’t the only things that go around and around! The doors to some buildings do the same thing. What are we talking about? Revolving doors, that is!

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Chances are you’ve been through a few revolving doors in your lifetime. They’re very common in large buildings and other places with a lot of foot traffic. You may have seen them at an office building or a shopping mall.

We’ll even bet that the first time you encountered a revolving door you went around and around a couple of times before passing into or out of the building. Didn’t you? Admit it!

And why not? Revolving doors are different and kind of fun. Would you like to have a revolving door on your house? What about your school?

Revolving doors consist of three or four doors

Often called wings or leaves — that are spaced an equal distance from each other around a center shaft. They rotate in a circle inside of a cylinder. The cylinder can be small, with just enough space for one person between wings, or it can be large enough to allow several people or even strollers or luggage racks to fit between wings.

The revolving door was invented in 1888 by Theophilus van Kannel from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An old urban legend holds that revolving doors were invented to prevent horses from entering buildings. Although that’s funny, it’s not true.

He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Van Kannel, who was recognized for his invention with the John Scott Medal by the Franklin Institute in 1889, founded the Van Kannel Revolving Door Company, which eventually was bought out by the International Steel Company in 1907. International Steel Company is the parent company of International Revolving Door Company. Theophilus had no family.

He invented and owned Witching Waves, an amusement ride introduced at Luna ParkConey Island, in 1907.

Van Kannel died in New York City of heart failure and was buried in West Park Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.

Theophilus Van Kannel

Revolving doors were invented because they have many advantages compared to traditional hinged doors. For example, revolving doors are more energy efficient than regular doors. When you open a regular door, a large amount of air can escape.

Revolving doors limit the amount of air that escapes as the wings rotate through the cylinder. In this way, drafts are reduced and heating and cooling costs are minimized.

Revolving doors also allow more people to enter and exit buildings more quickly. Using a revolving door, people can enter and exit a building at the same time. Regular doors force one person to wait while the other passes through.

Architects like revolving doors because they enhance the entrances of buildings. Not only do they reduce the amount of street noise heard by those inside, they also eliminate the annoying sound of slamming doors.

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