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Door Handles

The north main facade of Alumni Hall consists of a “projecting flat-roofed portico with balustrade and two smooth stone Tuscan columns and brick piers that create a recessed entry porch” (Miami University Archives). The entrance has a classical stone pattern and paired wood doors with bronze door handles designed by Albert Paley in 1997. The Ohio Percent for Art commissioned artist Albert Paley for the Alumni Hall Project who proposed to design, manufacture and install eight push/pull door handles throughout the building. All the work was designed and executed at the Artists’ studio in Rochester New York, then shipped and installed on site. Each handle weighs approximately 65 pounds and was insured to “not affect the operation or long-term use of the doors with their existing hinges” (Albert Paley). These large-scale formed and fabricated bronze handles cover approximately 2/3 of the vertical area of the door, thereby giving a majestic presence to the entrance. “The sites submitted, I feel, would bring additional focus and enhancement to the original structure and the ambiance of the architectural space.” (Albert Paley).


The original installation date was set for July 30th, 1997 in the contract, however, Albert received a letter five days prior from Lynne Wagner, Chair of Percent for Art Selection Committee, listing a few concerns. In the letter she states, “The university is now requesting a postponement of the installation date until the issues stated below are resolved and we can reschedule the installation with confidence and key personnel present…On July 1 of 1997 Miami University received a faxed front-view drawing of a proposed push-pull handle to be used on 4 sets, or eight doors in Alumni Hall. No instillation, attachment detail or template was sent. On July 24, you gave me a verbal description of the attachment and spacing of the handles which I forwarded to the concerned parties within the University. After a walk-through and review today, it was determined by this group of people that the push-pulls were not designed around the code hardware and will not function as required for two sets of the doors for which they were intended. Both these sets of doors require panic bars on the inside and relocating the lock would render them inoperable under emergency situations… I would like to suggest we reschedule installation the week of August 4 after we come to a resolution. We all want to assure the success of this project” (Lynne Wagner). After hearing back from the Artist, Lynne sends a letter to Greg Walker, Percent for Art Committee Member, regarding Alberts response where she writes, “Mr. Paley was not thrilled about designing around the specified panic bars for the inside of the main entrance door to Alumni Hall. We have given him an option which he has gladly accepted, to change the location of that set of push-pulls to the outside of the main entrance doors of the Art and Architecture Library” (Lynne Wagner). After coming to an agreement on both ends, the four locations for the four sets of push-pull handles were determined; front door- outside, two main office areas in the rotunda, and on the Art/Architecture Library doors.


In consideration for the promises and performance of the artist, the Ohio Arts Council agreed to pay Paley a total sum of $47,637.80 to “constitute full compensation to the Artist for all costs incurring in the creation of the Work, including but not limited to fees, materials, labor of the Artist and Artist’s assistants, engineering costs, studio and operating costs applicable to this project, travel costs for the Artist to visit and research the site, shipping and crating of the Work to the permanent location, insurance of the Work until completion of installation, and any costs incurred by the Artist for installation of the Work at the permanent location” (Lynne Wagner).