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Sep 10 2010

Planetarium Exit

When I need inspiration for what to write about and nobody has sent me a good code question that day, all I have to do is look back at my photos from family outings.  That’s sad, I know.  🙂

During the summer I took the kids to a children’s museum that had a planetarium.  The first photo below is of the doors leading from the planetarium into a short corridor.  The second set of doors is from that short corridor to the lobby.  In my opinion, it’s not acceptable to paint egress doors in a way that conceals the doors or hardware.  On the other hand, the first set of doors is clearly an exit, and once you’re in the short corridor there are no other doors, so the means of egress is pretty obvious (click on any photo to enlarge).

The 2009 IBC states the following in section 1008.1:

“Means of egress doors shall be readily distinguishable from the adjacent construction and finishes such that the doors are easily recognizable as doors. Mirrors or similar reflecting materials shall not be used on means of egress doors. Means of egress doors shall not be concealed by curtains, drapes, decorations or similar materials.”

The 2009 Life Safety Code – NFPA 101, states the following:

“ No furnishings, decorations, or other objects shall obstruct exits or their access thereto, egress therefrom, or visibility thereof. Mirrors shall not be placed on exit door leaves.  Mirrors shall not be placed in or adjacent to any exit in such a manner as to confuse the direction of egress.”

What’s your opinion?  Do you think the painting on these doors is acceptable?  There’s a separate issue that’s impossible to see in the photos…one of the doors has an overlapping astragal, so only one of the doors can be opened when both doors are closed.  If you push the touchpad on the panic device on the left, the door won’t open because of the astragal that overlaps the other door.

7 Responses to “Planetarium Exit”

  1. Fatboy says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the doors resembling the decor, but I would require exit signs, you could argue that there is nowhere else to go, but in a panic situation, the additional signage would help. The astragal would have to go. JMHO

  2. Cda says:

    Agree add sign which should have been there.

  3. Charles Hobbs says:


    The second set of doors also seem to have surface bolts at the bottom. The hardware on the exit doors is not readily distinguishable. I would say it does NOT meet code.


  4. Michael Rebbec says:

    Would the hardware have to be visible on the black doors? They appear to be push/pull with a push plate painted black on the door. A push plate really is just protection, not operation hardware, so does that have to be visible (I wouldn’t think a push plate is necessary if an owner didn’t want to protect the door). I, personally would assume a door with no lever/device in sight would be push/pull, and thus would consider the operation of push/pull with no hardware visible still complying with the “obvious operation” statements as made by IBC and NFPA… What are your thoughts?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Michael –

      I think the black push plates are ok…a black lockset/panic on black doors might not be, although I had a white panic on a white door a while back and most of the code experts thought it was ok. It’s a bit of a judgment call, but since there is no unlatching operation required I’d be comfortable with the black push plates.

      – Lori

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