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The Evolution of Elevator Cab Design

Friday, August 1, 2014

by Ralph M. Newman

Source: Elevator World

“In Europe, elevator cabs are simply a mode of transportation. In the U.S., they’re an art form.”

So says Grace Y. Greco, cab sales specialist at Columbia Elevator Products, headquartered in Bridgeport, CT.   “Domestically,” according to Greco, “we’re tending more and more to customize our cabs as an integral part of overall building aesthetics – an extension of the building’s architectural statement, a carry-through of the visual into the elevator cab, for a more holistic, unified flow.” The trend is for more custom design using various rich materials – etched glass, marble, wood veneers, patterned metals, etc. – and new looks such as taller cabs and doors, up to 10 feet in height and beyond. These aesthetics are becoming an increasing factor – both in new construction and older buildings where lobbies and elevators are being upgraded for a substantial increase in property value and to more favorably compete for tenant retention and acquisition.

LJ Blaiotta, Columbia’s president, believes that this trend is firmly entrenched and will continue to grow: “As with other modern, architecturally-driven industries, the manufacture of elevator cabs is reflecting the visual design aesthetics of the current construction market. However, while ‘beauty’ and architectural expressiveness are often driving factors, a keen eye must be kept on functionality, safety, and code-mandated restrictions on weight, size and projections into the cab. The onus rests with us as the cab manufacturer, while satisfying the architects and their clients, to make certain that these new materials and uses are in full compliance with the fire resistivity, smoke development, electrical shock and structural integrity requirements of the A17 Elevator Safety Code.”

There several ways to ensure that these requirements are being met. “For example,” Blaiotta explains, “many of the fire resistivity and smoke development statistics of new materials can be obtained from their suppliers and the lab testing reports they supply.  But, as the cab manufacturer, we must go still further to ensure that combinations of the new materials being used in today’s cabs continue to meet the performance requirements of the code. At Columbia, we employ the certification services of Underwriters Laboratories (U.L.)®, the decades-long standard in independent, third-party testing. Through vigorous up-front testing and follow-up procedures, U.L. is able to certify that Columbia’s cabs – in their ‘end-use configuration’ – are in full compliance with section 2 of the Elevator Safety Code. Columbia cabs go out the door bearing a U.L. label, similar to the U.L. fire-door labels found on all our entrances. This makes it easy for the elevator inspector, who can simply look for a U.L. label on a cab and be assured that it has been manufactured to a strict procedure that fully complies with the code.” 

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