ORLANDO, Fla. — Michael Rodriguez, the architect of record on the $21.7 million Recreation And Wellness Center expansion project for the University of Central Florida, knew what he wanted in the way of fire doors.
But he had to convince a skeptical building code official that Won-Door Fireguard doors would do the job.
"This official was unfamiliar with Won-Door. She really didn't trust them," Rodriguez said. "She thought they were overhead coiling doors that every time they drop, they have to have someone from the factory come out and reset them."
Rodriguez said he had worked with Won-Door in the Orange County Convention Center renovation project in California in the mid-90s and knew the product well. He wanted the Won-Door product.
"We fought and fought, brought in all kinds of literature and finally she bought off on it," Rodriguez said. "We are very happy with them and the university is very happy with them. They eliminated the need for a lot of (swing) doors and the place looks good and allows for lots of free movement."
Rodriguez said the eight Fireguard doors cost more than swing doors but pay off in dividends as far as opening up the space and demanding far less maintenance than swing doors which are constantly being opened and shut.
"The Won-Door is not used until an emergency," Rodriguez said. "Since the university wanted continuity — they didn't want students to be opening and closing doors all the time — we presented the Won-Door. They could keep a 10-foot height and still create the separation between the existing and the new."
The innovative 40,000-square feet expansion is a "green" project which means any energy generated by the students working out on the exercise machines is fed back into the main system.
That energy is converted to a direct current and sent on to a system developed by a Florida company known as ReRev that then converts it to an alternating current that is usable power, 50 watts per typical workout and a carbon negative footprint.
Won-Door fits into that scheme well, Rodriguez said, as the doors draw no power unless an emergency situation requires they close.
"It really is a cutting edge project," said Won-Door's Florida District Manager Eric Eiffert.
Sarah DiSabato, Associate Director over Facilities at the recreation center, said the Won-Doors are working out fine.
"Overall, we are happy with our selection of product as it does add to the overall attractiveness of the facility. Without them, it would look evident we added on to our facility and wouldn't give a cohesive look as parts of the building lead into different functions," DiSabato said.
Eight Won-Door Fireguard doors were used in the expansion project which added room for more cardio and fitness machines along with more free weights, essentially doubling the number of machines.
The expansion adds a multi-purpose room for intramural sports, workout classes and club use, a new outdoor lap pool, an athletic training room, an outdoor adventure room and four new racquetball courts.
Welbro Building Corporation workers broke ground in June 2009 and finished before the end of 2010. To make room, several other structures were either shifted or removed.
Welbro's project manager Paul Florence said if the university had used the regular storefront doors it would have broken up the traffic flow and seriously affected the look of the space.
It was essential to separate the existing structure from the new portion with enough fire protection to meet current codes. Three-hour Fireguard doors were used to create that barrier. One-hour Fireguard doors were used in the corridors and to separate the floors.
"It is, in effect, just one building," Florence said. "So we did not want to go with the storefront doors — the swing doors — to separate the old building from the new. The Won-Door would be open all the time except in an emergency."
The new and impressive facility opened to the public in early 2011.
The Recreation And Wellness Center is expected to receive a LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the nation’s leading coalition for advancing buildings that are environmentally responsible.