It’s a classic situation: you’re in an elevator, jamming the door close button, only to discover the elevator gods are not with us that day, and the doors don’t obey our command. In fact, it seems like we’ve been in this situation so many times that many people even begun to question the legitimacy of the buttons themselves.  So what are we to think? Do the “door close” buttons actually work? 

This question that has plagued Bwog for too long, so, though the elevator expert was trapped at the time (guess where?), we dispatched dumbwaiter expert David Hu to test close door buttons around campus. For each elevator, we let the door close by itself “naturally” without pressing the close button and then again with pressing the close button. For consistency, the tests were conducted when no one walked on or off the elevators, and if possible, we averaged the times for multiple elevators in a building. Was it scientifically rigorous? Of course not, but scientists have far more important subjects to study.

Hit the jump for the (mostly) comprehensive report, which may surprise you. Or not.


Without pressing: 7.2s

With pressing: 6.0s

Verdict: The button seems to work, but the difference isn’t much. And with the slowness of the actual elevator, most of the times you may be better off just taking the stairs.  


Without pressing: 6.5s

With pressing: 5.2s

Verdict: This button also seems to work, but once again, the difference is negligible. If you’re going up one flight, why not just take the stairs?


Without pressing: 6.8s

With pressing: 6.9s

Verdict: That’s right, the button in Hamilton actually makes the wait longer. This is just a glitch that happened in averaging the times, but in all seriousness, the button here has no effect.


Without pressing (3 main elevators): 7.3s

With pressing (3 main elevators): 5.2s

Without pressing (side elevator): 8.2s

With pressing (side elevator): 6.7s

Verdict: The button works on both elevators, but you may want to opt to wait for one of the main three.  


Without pressing: 7.5s

With pressing: 6.5s

Verdict: The button cuts your total travel time by one second; so if it takes longer than one second for you to get out of your corner of the elevator, don’t bother.  


Without pressing (main elevators): 10.4s

With pressing (main elevators): 6.9s

Verdict: Press the button. It will make a difference. (Insider’s secret: the left elevator’s doors close significantly faster than the right one) 


Without pressing (North elevator): 5.8s

With pressing (North elevator): 4.3s

Without pressing (South elevator): 7.5s

With pressing (South elevator): 5.3s

Verdict: Definitely make the effort to press the button, especially if you’re on the South elevator.  


Without pressing: 5.9s

With pressing: 5.2s

Verdict: By the time you make the decision to press the button, you would have probably already lost the time you would have saved by pressing it.  


Without pressing (North elevator): 8.0s

With pressing (North elevator): 7.9s

Without pressing (South elevator): 6.8s

With pressing (South elevator): 6.5s

Verdict: Don’t bother pressing the button; you’ll barely even notice a difference. 


Without pressing (North elevator): 5.6s

With pressing (North elevator): 5.4s

Without pressing (South elevator): 6.4s

With pressing (South elevator): 5.3s

Verdict: Sorry Northies, the South elevator seems to be better than the ones on the other side of the hall. Again. 

John Jay

Without pressing: 6.3s

With pressing: 5.9s

Verdict: Keeping in mind that the elevators travel at an abysmal speed and are generally packed, even though it will barely make a difference, pressing the close button may be the only thing to save you from misery.  

East Campus

Without pressing: 8.5s

With pressing: 7.2s

Verdict: Press the button if you wish. Especially if it’s past 2 A.M. and you need to get back home as fast as you can to bid your bladder’s calling.  


Without pressing: 5.0s

With pressing: 3.9s

Verdict: If you really want to save the 1.1s, go ahead and press. (Insider’s secret: The left elevator was actually the fasted one tested on campus with a door close time of 3.4s after pressing the button.) 


Without pressing: 6.5s

With pressing: 6.5s

Verdict: It definitely seems like the door close buttons don’t work here. Is there really anything good about Wien?  

Final verdict

More often than not, the door close buttons indeed do not work, or at least they don’t make much of a difference in total travel time. But there are those tiny glimmers of hope, most noticeably in Mudd, Carman, and Furnald. Still in most cases, it’s a matter of saving under a second, which may or may not be worth the effort, depending on who else is in the elevator, your destination floor, and what awkward social situations that may entail. Make of the evidence what you will, and happy pressing!