When a city plans a new structure, it’s trying to update its image, but it’s also trying to achieve this update in a unique way that projects that city’s identity to the public. Naturally, a city wants to introduce new ways to display its identity with each new commercial build. It tells the public of the city’s pride as well as its ability to move forward with technology and society. You wouldn’t automatically think about a door when discussing innovative and eye-catching architecture. They’re utilitarian. We need them to secure our homes and businesses and to compartmentalize all sorts of residential, commercial and industrial spaces. A door is just a door, right?

Revitalizing Sacramento’s Downtown: The Golden 1 Center

The Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento is a huge indoor arena that is the city’s main destination for all types of entertainment, and home to the Sacramento Kings. It was built to fulfill a contract that stated the city had to build the Kings a new arena by 2016 to keep them in the city, and its location was chosen to help replace and revitalize the defunct Downtown Plaza area. Designing and building this arena wasn’t exactly a straightforward process though; the city wanted something that felt unique to Sacramento’s identity and they also needed to adhere to California’s strict energy standards. Now, what does any of this have to do with doors?

Where Design Meets Efficiency: The Center’s Bifold Doors

What is entirely unique to this arena are it’s gigantic glass bifold doors. Installing huge doors in a sports/entertainment arena isn’t necessarily a novel idea, but designing and installing these 6-story automated bifold doors was definitely a novel undertaking. There are 5 of these doors, all of which are automated in a way that allows them to be powered by solar panels and controlled by a phone app. That in itself was a feat of engineering, because three of the doors hang at an angle and two don’t, so they all move different distances and speeds to open in unison. The angled doors help with energy efficiency of the building because they are partially self shading. All of the glass bifold doors allow anyone on the indoor balcony to admire the view of the city around them, and when they’re opened the entire arena becomes an indoor/outdoor space.

The builders managed to take what most of us would view as a glorified garage door, blow it up to monumental size, set it at an angle, and turn a typical modern arena into an indoor/outdoor city center unique to Sacramento. They reflect (literally) the city’s appreciation for its natural environment as well as its uncanny ability to gracefully mesh that appreciation for nature with modern industrial innovation. The glass on all the doors is also designed with a grey coating so that birds don’t crash into them. They really thought of everything, which is probably why the doors took over 3 months to install. These doors are integral to the appearance and message of the Golden 1 Center arena, but they’re also an important lesson for anyone looking to design a new space or update an existing one: a door isn’t always just a door.