Bifold Doors Give University of Illinois Renovation Project a View from the Top

Dec. 8, 2021

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finished building its new 107,650-sq.-ft. world-class football performance center, which included access to a rooftop terrace.

Champaign, Ill.

The Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Performance Center is a $79.2 million facility that serves as a world-class home for the Fighting Illini football program. A standard of excellence permeates every square foot—from the state-of-art sports medicine suite to the strength and conditioning complex and the player’s lounge, complete with a bowling alley, game room and barber shop.

On the third floor, the rooftop terrace required an incredible level of consideration to maintain this carefully curated, high-performance aesthetic, while safeguarding guests’ access to the available dramatic views and creating a more open feel in the space.


Chicago-based architect HNTB looked to glass-clad bifold liftstrap doors—which are larger in size, more flexible, maneuverable and easier to use—to maximize views, while providing easy access. While large glass doors are often quite heavy, the Schweiss bifold doors with a liftstrap design can easily handle this weight. Each liftstrap is capable of lifting 29,000 lbs., which make them a safer door than a cable lift door. The strap design also lifts the doors faster and quieter, and, when the doors are open, they provide a nice canopy.

The largest of the three bifold doors is 21 ft. 6 in. × 10 ft. 8 in. and the other two measure 9 ft. 7 in. × 11 ft. The glass-clad designer doors are equipped with electric photo eye sensors, a door base safety edge, gray liftstraps, manual latches and an emergency backup system in case of a power outage. The door frames were also powder coated.

Adam Hebert, project manager for general contractor Petry-Kuhne, says the Schweiss bifold doors are very nice and this was the first time he’d seen them specified on a project. In addition to having the doors powder-coated in a shade of white, the outside face of the doors was covered with an all-glass full-view aluminum storefront entry-style material.