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Captivating Cabs

Advanced materials and design create compelling moving rooms

Thursday, September 13, 2018

by Ralph M. Newman

Source: Elevator World

Glass  and  mirrored  residential  cab  by  Columbia  Elevator  Products

Glass  and  mirrored  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.

Interior design, whether in a home or business environment, is a major influencer on peoples’ impressions, moods, states-of-mind and desire/propensity to occupy a particular space. Life-defining decisions – such as whether to buy, rent, visit or remain in an environment – are made daily by millions of people, based on the way a space looks and how it makes them feel. Rooms are designed to represent their creators’ points of view, statements about who they are, whom they seek to invite into the space, and for what purpose.

Observes LJ Blaiotta, CEO of Columbia Elevator Products: “What essentially is an elevator cab but a small room that transports its temporary inhabitants vertically through a structure? As such, a cab is subject to the same interior design principals as any other room. When a person enters a building, the lobby may be the first thing they see, but the elevator is likely the first thing they fully experience. More than strictly utilitarian, the elevator cab is an outstanding opportunity to convey the personality and attitude of the building that surrounds it, and, on an ongoing basis, to make riders feel good about engaging with it.”

It is estimated that in America there are nearly 20 billion passenger trips per annum, and on average about a half dozen passengers per trip. That represents over 100 billion individual elevator rider engagements every year, a considerable number of opportunities to please people and bring value to the buildings and occupants they serve. Elevator cab design – a compendium of design, aesthetics and safety concerns – affects more people in more ways than is commonly considered.

Such effect has been the case from the elevator’s very earliest days, when the new technology began to impact not only the look of cities but also of people’s homes. Found primarily within the grander residences of the early 20th century, ornate “birdcage” cabs were designed to please the eye while providing dynamic views from within as they traveled through the elaborate stairwells into which they often were set. Following subsequent decades of cabs designed largely for safety reasons as “enclosed boxes,” today, with the advent of glass cab designs, attention has refocused on leveraging the view out from the cab to delight elevator passengers. Beyond interior installations, 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 outside the building. As always, 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 – or as 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.

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