When I was growing up, Amsterdam, New York was the half-way point in a frequent family trip.  It was always exciting to see the windmill beside the Thruway, giving us hope that we would – eventually – be able to get out of the car.

It’s too bad we never stopped to see the door of the Amsterdam Free Library…I wasn’t as interested in doors back then.  It doesn’t look like much from afar…

Amsterdam Free Library

But check out the metalwork (you can click the photo to enlarge)…

The reason this door came to my attention is because of an article in The Recorder, which said that the door would not be re-installed after a renovation, because “the inner and outer doorways must be the same width. The metalwork door was smaller than the inner doorway, so this violated the code.”

It sounds like the problem is that the exterior door is not as wide as the interior door or doors – the IBC states: “The minimum width or required capacity of a means of egress system shall not be diminished along the path of egress travel.”

But in reading the IBC Commentary, it seems like this reduction in width is only an issue if the smaller component does not provide the required egress width:  “The egress path is also not allowed to be reduced in width such that the design occupant load (required capacity) would not be served. Note, however, that the egress path could be reduced in width in situations where it is wider than required by the code based on the occupant load. For example, if the required width of a corridor was 52 inches (1321 mm) based on the number of occupants using the corridor and the corridor provided was 96 inches (2438 mm) in width, the corridor would be allowed to be reduced to the minimum required width of 52 inches (1321 mm) since that width would still serve the number of occupants required by the code. In the context of this section, a “means of egress component” would most likely be a door or doorway.”

I checked with a few AHJs and they agreed that it’s acceptable to have a pair of doors (leading from an executive office, for example) with a single door farther along the means of egress – as long as the single door accommodates the occupant load.

So.  Maybe the library’s exterior door does not provide the required clear width of 32 inches, minimum.  Or maybe the occupant load of the library is greater than what can be accommodated by a single door (+/- 160 occupants).  Unless one of you is in Amsterdam and wants to go take a look, we may never know.

Photos:  Building: David Schalliol (Flickr), Door: Inglenook Realty Inc.

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.