Ellison Provides Custom Balanced Doors for Cathedral
New Majestic Bronze Doors Match Aesthetic of Original Structure
Ellison Bronze, Inc., the inventor of the balanced door and today’s leader in providing the highest quality marquee entrances in the industry, offers its custom door systems to Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, PA. The new entry systems offer a pleasing aesthetic to match the exterior of the decades-old structure.
Blessed Sacrament Cathedral was originally built for the Most Holy Sacrament Parish, a parish of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, in the late 1920s. The church did not become a cathedral until Pope Pius XII erected the Diocese of Greensburg in 1951. Due to this new appointment, the cathedral underwent several renovations over the next few decades.
One of the changes made in the 1960s was the replacement of the original, austere looking, dark planked tongue-and-groove wooden doors with non-traditional glass doors. The glass doors did not provide a pleasing aesthetic in combination with the Romanesque and Early Gothic style of the church, prompting the most recent project team to turn to Ellison Bronze for four of their custom bronze balanced doors – a pair at the church’s main entrance, and a single door on each side of the building integrated with a panel of stained glass windows.
The inspiration for bronze came from the original communion rail screens around the chancel of the church. In the 1950s, the screens were removed as part of a renovation, and incorporated into a new exterior sign for the church. The design team called for custom doors that mirrored the look of the sign, creating cast bronze panels that would represent the original design and fit with the Romanesque and Early Gothic look.
“This was a very specialized project,” said Carla Shettel of Celli-Flynn Brennan-Architects & Planners, who served as Project Manager of the project, “Ellison was the only company who could provide the specific requirements and the aesthetic we wanted for this entry.”
Each door contains a total of six bronze panels – three on the front and three on the back – and weighs 700 pounds, making Ellison’s balanced design necessary to facilitate easy opening and closing. The construction of an Ellison balanced door is unique, in that it allows for large, heavy, and durable doors to open with ease. Traditional swing doors are attached at the frame and the door user must pull the entire weight of the door leaf. A balanced door pivots at two-thirds the width of the door, creating a balance that distributes the weight so the door is easy to open.
The inset balancing point allows for an easier opening force, even in strong winds or where significant building stack pressure exists, despite the added weight of the sturdy components.
Unlike conventional entry doors, an Ellison formed-up door features a solid sub-frame, which is made of minimum .09-inch thick material. The external door skins are spot welded at close intervals to the internal channel components, yielding an extremely durable unitized construction.
Each door is manufactured and pre-hung at Ellison before it leaves the factory, allowing any adjustments to be made so the operation of the door is honed to perfection. This process allows for easy installation and is useful for renovations, such as Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.
In addition to the superior quality and customization of an Ellison door, the company is able to provide customers the service of detailed record keeping. Every door produced is imprinted with an individual product number (similar to that of a car’s VIN number), to facilitate easy tracking and maintenance.
Ellison prides itself on providing unparalleled customer service and a hands-on approach. Carla Shettel emphasized this by saying, "Everyone at Ellison communicated very well throughout the process; and they worked closely with us to ensure proper design and function of this highly-customized entry system.”
The Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Project was completed in October 2011. The project team consisted of architect Celli-Flynn Brennan-Architects & Planners, contractor Volpatt Construction, and bronze castings by Matthews International-Bronze Division, all of Pittsburgh, PA.