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Creating Captivating Cabs with Glass

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, March 4, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

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Glass and mirrored stainless-steel residential cab by Columbia Elevator Products, featuring Columbia’s ALURE® linear door operator for LULA and home-lift applications. As with early open-design birdcage elevators, today’s residential glass cabs revive the concept of passengers enjoying dynamic views of the elevator’s exterior architectural surroundings. Photo courtesy Chad Jordan, Residential Elevators.

Glass and mirrored stainless-steel residential cab by Columbia Elevator Products, featuring Columbia’s ALURE® linear door operator for LULA and home-lift applications. As with early open-design birdcage elevators, today’s residential glass cabs revive the concept of passengers enjoying dynamic views of the elevator’s exterior architectural surroundings. Photo courtesy Chad Jordan, Residential Elevators.

From the elevator’s very earliest days, the new technology impacted not only the look of cities but also of people’s homes. Ornate “birdcage” cabs, found primarily within the grander residences of the early 20th century, were designed to please the eye while providing dynamic views from within as they traveled through the elaborate stairwells in which they were often set.

In the subsequent decades, cabs were designed largely for safety reasons as “enclosed boxes;” however, today, with the advent of glass cab designs, attention has refocused on leveraging the view out from the cab to delight elevator passengers. How has technology advanced to give us this new – and still evolving – view out?

  • The development of extremely strong, laminated, shatter-retardant glass, advanced ventilation techniques – plus UV filtering and gels to manage exposure to the sun – collectively are enabling creation of previously undreamt-of elevator designs on interior installations and outside the building.
  • Safety continues to be the overarching concern as these new glass creations evolve into the mainstream of elevator architecture.
  • Current code, ANSI Z97.1, mandates the use of lamination to keep the glass intact if it should break, while Section 2 of the code governs the structural integrity required to keep riders inside the cabin in the event of a failure.

Not all use of glass in cab design is simply to enable exterior views. Glass can be used inside the car:

  • overlaying sensitive decorative materials to avoid damage
  • keeping those materials visible while enhancing them with depth and luster
  • becoming a decorative element unto itself.

A growing trend, for example, is back-painted glass, featuring patterns, artwork and scenes, augmented by special lighting effects and all manner of sensory treatments.

  • Different types of glass in a wide range of custom and standard aesthetics can be installed in today’s cabs making for captivating appearances, including
    • unlimited colors, antique finishes, and a variety of fire-polished, matte and luminous semi-matte surfaces.
  • These non-porous, durable glass surfaces are easy to maintain and ideal for high-traffic elevator applications.

While glass is a major factor in today’s advanced elevator design across all environments, both indoors and out, this newly envisioned use of glass is only one of many aesthetic contributions to the highly experiential elevator ride of 2019. Next time, I’ll talk about stainless steel, including how it can yield a reflection almost equivalent to glass.

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