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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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Columbia Creating Captivating Cabs

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

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CE Cab AdInterior design, whether in a home or business environment, is a major influencer on peoples’ impressions, moods, states-of-mind, and desire 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.

And, what is an elevator cab but, essentially, a small, specially designed room that transports its temporary inhabitants vertically through a structure? As such, a cab is subject to the same interior design principles 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 the elevators serve. Elevator cab design affects more people in more ways than is commonly considered. In upcoming blogs, I’ll look at design, aesthetic, and safety issues and how they influence the way Columbia Elevator manufactures captivating cabs.

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Smooth Operators: Part III The Evolution of Moving Elevator Doors

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, January 7, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

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Columbia Elevator’s patented (#7424935) ALURE® car operator and entrance system utilizes world-class technology to meet the demands of the most discriminating customer.

Columbia Elevator’s patented (#7424935) ALURE® car operator and entrance system utilizes world-class technology to meet the demands of the most discriminating customer.

Happy New Year to all our Lou’s Lessons Readers! It’s a new year and I am excited to continue the tradition of sharing information about the elevator industry with all of you.

With the next generation of intelligent door operators arrives the addition of a new term to the elevator operator lexicon: door and landing mechanism “modularity.” This allows economies and efficiencies to be optimized on a landing-by-landing basis, freeing the elevator system designer from needing to apply a single door/operator configuration to all landings of a building. Instead, the designer may now specify the appropriate door and landing mechanism for each landing’s unique requirements.

For example, consider a common application that would call for heavy-duty, more-durable door panels at the main egress floors that will bear the most traffic. Here the openings will use larger track and roller sizes for smooth and quiet operation, with an operator sufficiently robust to effectively drive such doors. In that same shaftway, there also might be entrances that open to a lower-level parking structure. Here, due to the aggregate demand of the upper floors, only a medium-duty service is needed to support that landing’s lesser traffic levels. Often such landings may be exposed to the elements, compelling the system designer to employ medium-weight door panes equipped with gasketing and corrosion-resistant track. To optimize floor-to-floor travel times, that same car door operator driving the egress floor openings must now adjust its torque to minimize door-closing times without exceeding code-mandated kinetic energy restrictions.

Additionally, because of the much lower traffic demands at the upper floor landings, light-weight doors of single-skin construction can be utilized with smaller-sized rollers and/or hanger assemblies to enable faster door closings and minimized floor-to-floor travel times. To address such varying exposures, these ‘intelligent’ car-door operators automatically adjust their performance to move the vastly different masses at each floor in a way that minimizes the door-close cycle without violating limits specified by code. For this ‘mix-and-match’ technology to properly function, the interface between the landing mechanisms and the car door operator is located in precisely the same location at each landing, regardless of the door type and door equipment deployed. This need for such mechanical flexibility at each floor defines the concept of modularity.

To conclude my focus on ‘smooth operators’ and how elevator technology forges ahead unabated, in 2019 it is less about allaying safety concerns than it is about vastly improving the experience of the people who design and build the elevators and improving the experience for the public that rides them. The intricacies of ‘flexibility’ and ‘modularity’ are not directly visible to the public, but riders do appreciate when elevator cars run more smoothly, quietly, and arrive more quickly at their floor when called.

Among designers, our friends the installers of the elevators, and the owners/managers of the buildings that house them, these concepts are recognized and welcomed!

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