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Closed Building 7 Doors Will Swing Again Soon


T. Luke Young -- The Tech
THANK YOU, COME AGAIN -- The automatic door to Lobby 7 which has been broken for several weeks should be repaired soon.

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

Students may be able to return to their well-trod path up the center of the steps at 77 Massachusetts Ave. later this week. The unending flow of student traffic has been diverted to the manual side doors for several weeks now as the center doors underwent repairs.

The pair of automatic doors, which have been out of service for several weeks for major maintenance work, will likely be placed back in service "very soon,"said Karen A. Nilsson, assistant director for administration of Physical Plant.

Over the past few weeks, maintenance workers from MITand from an independent door specialist company have been working to replace the pneumatic drive that closes the doors, Nilsson said.

"The doors in Lobby 7 are over 30 years old," and the pneumatic devices, located beneath the floor in the basement of Building 7, have been wearing down over the past few years from their constant use, Nilsson said.

When the workers began repairing the doors several weeks ago, they initially hoped to salvage the device, but it became necessary to "totally replace" the mechanism, delaying the door's reopening.

After the new closers were installed, workers further discovered that the triggering mats that open the doors had become worn and would not work with the new closers, Nilsson said. New custom-sized mats are now being shipped and should be installed later this week.

While the doors are not the oldest operating doors on the campus, they do receive more use than other doors, Nilsson added, necessitating their frequent maintenance.

Some students thought that the access to the main campus was made more difficult by the broken doors. "Ithink it kind of sucks,"said Jervis C. Lui '98. "I saw someone who walks on crutches"have a very difficult time getting into the building.

Others thought that the absence of the automatic doors was not a problem. "People who use the [automatic] doors are lazy," said Lucy Ramirez '00.

New tones punctuate crosswalk

Other changes have also occurred in the vicinity of the Building 7 entrance to the Institute. The tone signaling when traffic is stopped for a red light has changed from a bell to a electronic tone.

The tone, which sounds somewhat like a bird chirping, is a "less distracting [and] more pleasant sound than the buzzer that was there before,"said Michael K. Owu, a senior planning officer in the Planning Office.

The noises "exist to make it easier for people with vision impairments to cross the street,"Owu said.

Assistant for Community Relations PaulParravano, who is blind, has been touch with the City of Cambridge for some time to get the new sound in place.

The new electronic tones are the first in the City, Owu said. Since then, the new electronic devices have also been installed at the crosswalk across Main Street at KendallSquare. The tones are also used at Boston University.

While the new tones were installed by the City, MIT has been making efforts since the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act to make more facilities accessible to the disabled. Changes have included relocating telephones closer to the floor, installing lifts and ramps for wheelchair accessibility, and replacing door handles with levers which are easier to open.