On gameday, when the University of Southern California Trojan men’s and women’s basketball teams battle it out at the Galen Center, upwards of 10,000 fans pack the arena to cheer them on. In between games at this recently opened multi-use facility, located on the campus' west side, volleyball, concerts and many other major events are held. They too draw large crowds.
The university owns and operates a six-story, 1,200-car-capacity parking structure within walking distance of the arena. During these special events, the garage doors leading in and out of the parking structure – known as PS-1 – are kept open before, though ticket takers are stationed at the doorways. The parking structure also services events for the renowned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on the other side of the building.
The structure was built for USC students, staff and faculty to park in the structure to access buildings on the University Park campus, and the USC Credit Union. There are no staffed booths at doorways. Instead, four automatically operated Rytec Spiral® Security Doors rapidly open and close at a rate of 60 inches per second as cars pass through, while tightly sealing up the doorway between accesses.
Along with the university’s education and research mission, security and safety is important for USC. The University’s Department of Public Safety is one of the largest university law enforcement agencies in the United States. A full-time staff of 281 along with contract security staffing and 30 students, protects the two campuses in south and east LA.
In the absence of manned booths at the entrance to the parking structure, a brace of cameras monitor the PS-1 doorways. “Still,” says USC Chief of Campus Security Carey Drayton, “all unmanned parking structure doorways have to deal with the problem of ‘piggybacking.’”
This happens when intruders time the interval between when the vehicle passing through the doorway and the door closing, and then they slip into the building.
The speed of the Spiral doors makes criminals think twice about piggy backing and discourages them from using our parking structures as possible crime sites.
As vehicles approach the doorway, the Spiral door’s control system detects an RFID chip in an adhesive strip attached to the car’s rearview mirror. USC provides an RFID chip to everyone who rents a parking space at PS-1. The faculty, staff and students are also given a key card to get back into the building through card reader-accessible pedestrian doors.
As the car approaches, the RFID reader mounted directly above the Spiral door detects the chip from as far as ten feet away and then opens the door if the car is authorized. The door opens so fast that the car can glide in and out of the parking structure without stopping to wait for the door to open. Where traffic patterns near the doorway are tight, the high speed minimizes potential damage to the door by rolling up the panel faster and out of the way than conventional doors.
Pablo Sahugun, the USC Parking Facilities Manager recalled that they met the Rytec representative at a trade show and learned how the speed of the door could benefit their ability to move traffic through their parking garage doorways. Sahugan points out the Rytec doors have had very few maintenance issues even with the high volume of traffic and open-and-close cycles.
The Spiral door’s compact, variable-speed, 2HP AC drive with a three-phase motor offers smooth starts and stops, and longer drive life. A weather-resistant NEMA-4X enclosure protects the UL/ULc-listed controls. Pre-programmed menu options allow the USC maintenance crew to easily adjust door operation to match the specific needs of each location, while self-diagnostic capabilities help keep maintenance-time to a minimum.
In addition to superior speed, the tight coil of the Spiral design makes it a perfect fit for parking garage applications like PS-1 where headroom is sparse, requiring only eleven inches of clearance. Space along the side is spared as well. The Spiral door guides mount to the inside wall, providing full access to the doorway.
When closed, the Rytec doors reinforce doorway security for both cars and drivers because of the appearance of the rigid aluminum slat construction and integrated locking system. The Spiral roll-up design has no metal-to-metal contact and therefore is quiet when operational and low maintenance.
A durable rubber membrane connects the slats, which run along galvanized steel side frames with full-height weatherproofing. This creates a complete seal against debris blowing into the parking structure to reduce clean-up. Despite the bright California sun pounding down on the doors, the anodized aluminum coating has kept the Spiral doors looking good.
If a vehicle or pedestrian happens to be in the doorway, standard dual photo eyes prevent the door from closing. This safety system is backed up by a reliable, pressure-sensitive edge that causes the door to reverse instantly upon contact.
“Fortunately,” says Chief Drayton, “the bad guys don’t know this and are not, in their minds, going to risk getting crushed by a speeding heavy-duty door panel.”
In the case of a power outage, a mechanical brake release lever on the side column allows the door to be opened manually.
Thanks to the high speed, Rytec Spiral Doors at USC don’t get in the way of traffic, only intruders.