Designing for Disaster:

National Building Museum Exhibit Features Tornado Solutions from ASSA ABLOY

Designing for Disaster, a new exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., showcases the critical role of building design and construction in protecting against hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes and other dangers.

Storm shelter door openings from ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in door opening solutions, are featured prominently in one of the exhibit’s marquis displays: a partially deconstructed FEMA P320-specified safe room for residences.

Storm shelters or safe rooms designed and built according to the FEMA guidelines are one of the few defenses against a tornado or violent storm that can produce wind speeds up to 250 mph and turn everyday items into destructive flying debris. The door openings—including the door, frame, locking hardware and hinges—are the only operable or moving part of a shelter and are therefore its weakest link.

The door opening installed on the Designing for Disaster safe room exhibit is constructed with products from ASSA ABLOY Group brands, including a StormPro door and frame from CECO Door, heavy duty SP3786 hinges from McKINNEY, Maxum deadbolts from MEDECO, a 5400 Series cylindrical lock from YALE and a 2005AT threshold from PEMKO.

“The door is the weakest link in the shelter because it has moving parts and needs to be operable,” said James Bell, windstorm coordinator for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. “There is a dangerous misconception that a shelter door opening can be constructed simply by grouping heavy duty products together. But the FEMA testing procedure shows the dangers of this mindset. An opening built without specially designed products will likely fail and expose shelter occupants to danger.”

All products used in the opening, with the exception of the threshold which does not impact structural integrity, have been tested as a complete assembly in compliance with FEMA P320 - Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room For Your Home or Small Business. Products used in a shelter constructed to FEMA P320 guidelines must pass static load testing (hold firm against a force of 252 psf for 10 seconds) and impact testing (withstand three impacts from a 15 pound two-inch by four-inch piece of lumber fired from an air cannon at 100 mph).

The opening featured on the exhibition safe room is one of many ASSA ABLOY assemblies that are listed for use on FEMA shelters. These assemblies range from shutters used to cover windows to double doors with a dimension of eight feet by eight feet (8’0” x 8’0”).  For more information about windstorm solutions from ASSA ABLOY, visit

The exhibition opened May 11, 2014 and will remain on view through August 2, 2015. Visit to purchase tickets online.

About The National Building Museum
The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, online content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves. Public inquiries: 202.272.2448 or visit Follow us on Twitter: @BuildingMuseum and Facebook:

ASSA ABLOY is the global leader in door opening solutions, dedicated to satisfying end-user demands for security, safety and convenience.