The Evolution of Elevators: Accommodating the Supertall

Ping An Finance Center © KPF

Elevators have been around for quite a long time; maybe not those that soar to hundreds of feet in a matter of seconds, but the primitive ancestors of this technology, often man-powered, were developed as early as the 3rd century BC.  These early wheel and belt operated platforms provided the lift that would eventually evolve into the “ascending rooms” that allow supertall skyscrapers (above 300 meters) to dominate skylines in cities across the world. Elevators can be given credit for a lot of progress in architecture and urban planning.  Their invention and development allowed for the building and inhabiting of the structures we see today.

skyscrapers are becoming more common as cities and architects race to the top of the skyline, inching their way further up into the atmosphere.  These buildings are structural challenges as engineers must develop building technologies that can withstand the forces of high altitudes and tall structures.  But what of the practical matter of moving through these buildings?  What does it mean for vertical conveyance?  How must elevators evolve to accommodate the practical use of these supertall structures?