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The Power of Automatic Doors Aesthetics in Commercial Design

Automatic doors are an essential component of many commercial buildings, providing a convenient and easily accessible entrance for visitors and employees. However, beyond their practical function, the visual appearance of automatic doors can also significantly impact the overall look and feel of a commercial building.

In recent years, there has been a shift towards designing buildings with a more cohesive, aesthetically pleasing appearance. This includes everything from the exterior materials and finishes to the interior design and furnishings. Automatic doors are no exception, and the design of these doors has become an important consideration for architects and designers.

One of the primary ways in which the appearance of automatic doors can impact a commercial building is through their ability to contribute to the overall aesthetic of the space. Whether a building is designed to be modern and sleek, or more traditional and classic, the design of the automatic doors should align with this overall aesthetic.

For example, a modern office building may benefit from the use of sleek, full glass entry door with concealed automatic door operator, while a historical building may be better suited to more traditional, wood-framed covers. In both cases, the automatic doors should be integrated seamlessly into the design of the building, rather than standing out as an afterthought.

In addition to aligning with the overall aesthetic of the building, the design of automatic doors can also play a role in the overall atmosphere and ambience of a space. For example, the use of warm, natural materials such as wood or stone can create a welcoming, inviting atmosphere, while the use of more industrial materials such as steel or aluminium may create a more utilitarian, functional feel.

Timing is key when designing an automatic door. This should be incorporated in the earliest stages of planning, as standard automatic door operators have fixed sizes and come only in silver or bronze colours. Despite the fact that most manufactures can create a custom order with different sizes and possibly even colours, obtaining custom orders and constructing structures with accessible entrances may take additional time due to delayed supply chains and high demands.Sometimes, in order to modify the door operator, a contractor or specialized modification shop with experience and expertise is required. Each door operator and brand has its own unique mechanics that must be taken into account!

Concealed Door Openers

In the majority of cases, automatic doors don't have to be designed and constructed from special materials: they can easily blend into a bespoke casing or cover, or even be concealed in the door header or floor.

Pre-fabricated and concealed door openers offer an ideal solution for many establishments; however, they must typically be incorporated into the design of a structure during its construction. Retrofitting such doors is more complex proportionally to costlier installation— thus making it usual practice to incorporate these types of doors in your initial plans is a good idea.

When considering a concealed power operated door, whether it be glass, aluminium or wood, consult an automatic door professional to make sure the design and type you want to use can work with a hidden door operator.

Different types of motors and configurations are required for different door materials, so after reviewing all the options, choose the best one for your projects and specific needs.

The use of concealed automatic doors can be a great way to enhance the visual appeal and atmosphere of a commercial building. With careful consideration given to the design, materials, and installation of these doors, architects and designers can create visually appealing spaces that both accessible, welcoming and comfortable for visitors.

it is important to mention that concealed door opener can also be retrofit to existing doors in some cases. It's worth noting that in some cases, concealed door openers can be retrofitted to existing doors by placing the door operator inside the ceiling or the header. This is a great option for those looking to upgrade older or existing doors without the expense of replacing them entirely.

Overall, concealed automatic door systems are a great way to improve the aesthetics and accessibility of a commercial building, retail stores and places where a standard door operator cannot be installed. By carefully considering all design and material options, architects and interior designers can create visually appealing spaces.

Commercial double glass doors in a West Vancouver building

Automatic Door Designs in Commercial Building Exteriors

Another important consideration when it comes to the aesthetics of automatic doors is their ability to blend in with the surrounding architecture. In some cases, this may mean designing the doors to match the exterior of the building, such as by using the same materials or finishes. In other cases, it may mean designing the doors to blend in with the surrounding landscape or urban environment.

For example, a building located in a bustling city center may benefit from the use of automatic doors with a more urban, industrial design, while a building located in a natural setting may be better served by auto doors that blend in with the surrounding landscape.

When designing the integration of automatic doors for a building, it is also important to consider the needs of the users. This includes factors such as accessibility, ease of use, location of operator, motor and arms, push buttons and durability. For example, automatic doors with clear, easy-to-follow visual cues can be helpful for individuals with visual impairments (also required by building codes), while concealed auto doors with custom cover materials may be more suitable for high-traffic areas.

Accessible Door Signage

Almost all manufactures provide appropriate signage that businesses and buildings can use to inform visitors about the use of their automatic doors. Different signage can also be purchased in many different signage stores. This can be a great way to ensure that all visitors are aware of how to safely and properly use the doors, as well as providing an opportunity for businesses and buildings to customize their entrances.

Designing a custom sign is also a possibility as long as the sign has the International Symbol of Access and meets the requirement of the provincial building code.

When incorporating power operated doors into the building plans pay attention to the opening direction of the doors and to the use of motion sensors. Those can be confusing and sometimes conflicts can arise between the fire regulation, city and provincial requirements.

Push buttons and motion sensors are the most common methods of automated door control. Push buttons require a user to physically press the button in order to open or close the door, while motion sensors detect movement and will automatically open or close the door accordingly. When selecting an automated door, it is important to consider safety requirements and be aware of which direction the door will open.

Accessible Buttons

Accessible push buttons are coming in many shapes, styles and sizes and can be surface mounted or built in to the wall itself. This two methods has some implication and should be considered based on the intend application. For example, some wireless buttons won't work if installed inside a concrete wall and battary operated buttons may be hard to be replaces (Read more about push buttons in our Ultimate Guide for Handicap Push Buttons).

The BC Building Code requires that buttons for power operated doors will be located in an accessible path of travel, marked with the international symbol of access, and located 24 inches to 60 inches away from the swing of a door. The lower button must be located between the height of 6 to 12 inches and the top button should be located directly above between 36 and 43 inches from the floor.

All buttons should be operable by touching or approaching any part of their surface with a fist, arm or foot meaning that both push to open and wave to open (touchless accessible button) buttons are acceptable by the code.

Height, width and depth

The dimensions of automatic doors, including height, width, and depth, are important factors to consider when designing and installing these doors in a commercial building. The size of the door opening (single or double door), as well as the intended use of the door, can impact the appropriate dimensions for an automatic door.

One important consideration when it comes to the height and width of automatic doors is the clearance required for individuals to pass through the door comfortably. A minimum of 36 inches is the acceptable width for an accessible door, even though some building codes allows a 32 inch width only.

It is important to remember that an "automatic door" does not necessarily refer to the actual door. In fact, many times a "door operator" is installed separately from the actual door. Depending on certain circumstances, it's possible for these two components to be bundled together and therefore cannot be ordered independently of one another. Make sure to review all specifications thoroughly before making any decisions.

The depth of automatic doors is another factor to consider. For instance, a well-known commercial showroom in North Vancouver invested in motorized curtains to provide coverage for each window and door in their showroom. The architect overlooked that the opening arm (push arm) of the door obstructed the curtains from sliding and even the cover of the door operator which is located above the door hinder the curtain's movement.

Luckily, we found a low-profile automatic Ditec door operator with a flat universal arm that was an ideal fit, seamlessly allowing the curtains to slide down.

Marble Construction Showroom in North Van with Custom ADO design and sliding curtains

Despite being just one element in many, the dimensions of door openers vary significantly. Most manufacturers of automatic doors offer the ability to customize the dimensions of the doors to fit the specific needs and requirements of a particular space. This can include customizing the height, width, and depth of the door and/or door operator, as well as the finish applied.

Customized automatic doors can also be equipped with multiple openers and closers to ensure smooth and efficient operation. This can include the use of sensors or other technologies to detect the presence of individuals and automatically open or close the door, as well as manual controls for use in the event of a power outage or other emergency.

In summary, the dimensions of automatic doors, including height, width, and depth, are important factors to consider when designing and installing these doors in a commercial building. By customizing the dimensions of these doors to fit the specific needs and requirements of the space, as well as equipping them with multiple openers and closers, building owners, architects and designers can ensure that their automatic doors are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.


Overall, the visual appearance of automatic doors plays a significant role in the overall look and feel of a building automated entrance. By planning ahead, consulting with an automatic door and accessibility experts, and aligning the design of these doors with the overall aesthetic of the building, while maintaining and considering the needs of the users, architects and designers can effectively incorporate automatic doors into their designs in a visually appealing way.

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