Doorway meets code, not expectations

Gym Annex elevator brings building up to federal standard, raises new concerns

By Cody McFarland, Associate Editor

What makes sense on paper does not always make sense in reality.

When it comes to the northwest entrance of the Gym Annex Building — the part of the building that was recently remodeled to include an elevator for people with mobility issues — whether or not the non-automated, single door marked for handicapped access makes sense, despite being approved by the division of the state architect, is certainly open for debate.

“There’s two things you need to know about the door: it was approved by the DSA (Division of State Architect) and it is in compliance with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) code,” Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said. “It’s not up to Bruce King code. I’m not pleased with it at all.”

Among things King cited as being displeased with were the lack of handicapped access buttons and the corresponding automated mechanism to open the door. The previous double doors had access buttons inside and outside of the building, enabling students to open the doors, whether coming or going, with the simple press of a button. Buttons are still present inside the GA, but are ineffective as they were disconnected during construction.

The GA lift project began on July 26, 2014, and was officially completed and signed off by a DSA inspector on Jan. 8. The project went to development contractor B. Brothers, who won the bid at approximately $550,000.

The new elevator is open and functioning in the northwest corner of the building, adjacent to Comet Stadium.

Athletic Director John Wade, whose office is on the second floor of the GA Building, said, “We’ve had multiple complaints about the structure. There have been two people that have fallen down because of the grade change (of the new access ramp outside).”

District Chief Facilities Planner Ray Pyle said he heard of one issue with the new step that was installed outside the building leading up to the remodeled entrance, but said an ADA-compliant ramp exists next to that step.

“The project was approved by the DSA. One of the key things they look at is accessibility,” Pyle said. “They know building code like the back of their hands. If there were a problem, we would take care of it.”

An audit by the state Civil Rights Office, which began Tuesday, is currently in progress at Contra Costa College to check the entire campus’ compliance with ADA access code, King said.

According to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines article 404.2, “Door openings shall provide a clear width of 32 inches minimum. Clear openings of doorways with swinging doors shall be measured between the face of the door and the stop, with the door open 90 degrees.”

Upon investigation, The Advocate concluded the new door on the west end of the Gym Annex checks out. It meets the minimum requirements.

According to the American National Standards Institute, an average adult wheelchair can be up to 50 inches long and up to 32 inches wide.

With the new northwest entrance door to the GA being 36 inches wide, the average adult wheelchair user has 2 inches on either side for wiggle room.

Considering this particular doorway is the first of two en route to the Fitness Center, a place designed to get people into better physical shape, Wade expressed concern for those with mobility issues who do not fall in the “average adult wheelchair user” category.

“I feel that with a lot of these projects, (architects) should consult the people who use what they are building,” he said.