City Of Vancouver Shows Doorknobs The Exit

Nov 20, 2013
Originally published on November 21, 2013 7:10 pm

The doorknob is dead. At least in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A recent revision in the city's building code, designed to improve accessibility, shows the door to the venerable knob, replacing it with the hipper and easier-to-use lever.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

"In September, Vancouver council adopted new amendments to its building code, effective next March, that, among other things, will require lever handles on all doors and lever faucets in all new housing construction."

The change has been coming for some time. Last year, for example, all the Art Deco doorknobs in Vancouver's heritage-listed City Hall were swapped out for "utilitarian gold-coloured levers," The Sun says.

The newspaper says Vancouver is a national trendsetter, so there appears to be no way out of the doorknob's impending demise across Canada.

Some accuse Vancouver city officials of flying off the handle with the new code. Allen Joslyn, president of the (New Jersey-based) Antique Doorknob Collectors of America, says he understands that in a public building "everybody wants to have free access, and that is a problem.

"But to say that when I build my private home and nobody is disabled that I have to put levers on strikes me as overreach," Joslyn says.

There won't be a doorknob "police squad busting into homes," Consumerist writes, but "all new housing construction will have to comply with the updated code and use lever handles and faucets. So if you've got a knob, you can keep it. Cherish it, call it your precious, whatever you want," the website says.

Even so, The Sun says:

"It is not like the doorknob will disappear entirely. Like many inventions, it will hold its own for a long, long time. There are, after all, a few people who still use typewriters instead of computers. Vancouver's rule is not retroactive to existing homes. But over time, the effect will become magnified as housing is replaced."

Updated Friday at 4:15 p.m.: On Friday, All Things Considered host Robert Siegel talked to Tom Lee, City Hall reporter for The Vancouver Sun about the change. You can hear that interview by clicking play above.

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