Many technological advancements have changed the way we design in the past 150 years, but perhaps none has had a greater impact than the invention of the passenger elevator. Prior to Elisha Otis’ design for the elevator safety brake in 1853, buildings rarely reached 7 stories. Since then, buildings have only been growing taller and taller. In 2009, the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, maxed out at 163 floors (serviced by Otis elevators). Though a century and half separates those milestones, in that time elevator technology has actually changed relatively little - until recently.
German mechanical company ThyssenKrupp, in collaboration with Microsoft, has launched its newest innovational elevator, MAX. Together, the companies have created an elevator that could create time savings for elevator passengers “equivalent to 108 centuries of new availability in each year of operation."
Elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp has unveiled its latest technological advance, a cable free, multi-car, multi-directional elevator that has the potential to revolutionize the size and shape of future skyscrapers. Run using magnetic technology similar to that used by Maglev trains, with each cabin running its own individual motor, the "MULTI" elevator system opens up the potential for elevator cabins to move horizontally as well as vertically. This in turn offers the potential for multiple cabins to operate in a single system, with cabins going up one shaft and down an adjacent shaft.
The sky is not always the limit when it comes to building vertically - rather, elevator technology is often the restricting factor when it comes to skyscraper height. With current technology, a single elevator can travel approximately 500m before the weight of the rope becomes unsupportable. This means that ascending a mile-high (1.6km) tower would require changing elevators up to 10 times. However, UltraRope, a recently unveiled technology by Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE, may change the heights of our cities. A new hoisting technology that will enable elevators to travel up to one kilometer, UltraRope doubles the distance that is currently possible.
The days of elevator small talk could be coming to an end with Hitachi planning to deliver the world's fastest elevator by 2016. Capable of travelling at speeds of 72km/h (44m/h), the record-breaking lifts will be able to hoist passengers up 95 floors in less than 40 seconds. Khon Pedersen Fox's 530-meter Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre will be the first to house the super-speed elevators, amongst 13 other high-speed elevators and 28 double-decker elevators. Currently, the world's fastest elevator is by Toshiba and only capable of reaching speeds of 61km/h (38m/h) within Taipei 101. You can learn more about the super-speed elevators, here.
Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE has unveiled a new hoisting technology that will enable elevators to travel twice the distance currently in use. The new development implies that the Burj Khalifa will not remain the tallest building for very long. The Burj, towering at 828 meters, has the longest elevator travel distance at 504 meters. KONE promises to double that.
Join us for more after the break.
What do the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Kremlin, and the Burj Khalifa have in common?
Elevators from the Otis Elevator Company. The company, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary today, has an interesting history: it was founded in 1853, the year Elisha Otis invented the elevator safety brake. Before Otis' invention, buildings rarely reached seven stories (elevators were considered just too dangerous to implement).
But it was Otis' elevator that would allow for the creation, and proliferation of, the skyscraper - an explosion that would for ever alter the 20th and 21st century skylines.
Read more about the Otis Elevators influence on skyscraper design (and how Otis performed a death-defying feat to increase the invention's popularity), after the break...
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.
Supertall 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?