Design considerations for elevators

Buildings are constructed for a specific purpose, often as a financial investment – to create value by selling the completed structure for more than it cost to build, or by leasing the space in the structure to one or more tenants and receiving income for many years. Therefore, it is essential that buildings are marketable and appealing to prospective buyers or tenants. A building’s lift system can contribute to its marketability or desirability in a number of ways with different lift parts and features , including:

  • Excellent performance
  • Changeability of use, such as to accommodate single or multiple tenants
  • Resilience in the event of lift failures or removal of lifts for refurbishment
  • Energy conservation
  • Appealing aesthetics

Efficiency of energy use and sustainability

As lifts can account for a significant portion of an office’s energy consumption, it is essential that all lifts minimize energy consumption, are as energy-efficient and sustainable as possible, and are designed to last.

Aesthetics

When designing the interior aesthetics of an elevator, there are essentially two options:

Manufacturers’ standard assortment of interior lift finishes

The interior finishes offered by lift manufacturers include laminates, steels, back-painted glass, and numerous others. Choosing finishes from standard ranges offers a variety of interior design options for lifts and, more importantly, is likely to result in a significant cost savings compared to a custom lift interior.

Customized elevator interior finishes

With a bespoke lift interior, a vast array of design options are available, but it is important to note that these options are not limitless and must still adhere to a number of constraints and regulations. Materials must be able to withstand a sudden safety stop without being damaged, they must be flame-resistant, and there are regulations regarding wall material thickness. The weight of lift interior finishes contributes to the overall mass of the lift system, thereby increasing the size of the lift’s machinery and its energy consumption.

Location of construction facilities

The location of building amenities such as bicycle storage and restaurants can have a significant impact on the lift strategy of a structure.
From a lift perspective, a simple office building is one in which all building users enter on the ground floor and all floors are located above ground. A single main entrance floor allows for greater lift system efficiency and can reduce the number of lifts required for a building, compared to a building with two main entrance floors.
Modern building designs have introduced building features that influence the design of the lift system, and these features frequently necessitate additional lift capacity, for instance.

  • Basement lift access
  • a number of ground floors
  • Attractions on upper floors, such as restaurants, include restaurants.
  • Accessible roof surfaces
  • Event spaces that can accommodate large crowds for a brief period

On a recent project, we proposed relocating the bicycle storage facilities from the basement to the ground floor, resulting in one fewer elevator in the building. This resulted in a capital cost savings of more than £250,000 and an increase in the building’s net lettable area, thereby increasing future rental income.

Why do these building characteristics increase the need for an elevator?

Imagine a lift system as the starting grid of a racetrack to comprehend why these features may necessitate an increase in lift capacity and the number of lifts in the building. The ground floor represents the starting line, while the upper floors represent the finish line. If some building occupants access the lift from a basement level (e.g., from a cycle store or shower area), it would be like a race car having to reverse away from the starting line to pick up passengers from the pit lane before starting from the back of the grid. Similarly, if there are multiple building entrances at different levels (e.g., some user access at ground level and others at upper ground), it is as if the race car had to stop before the first corner to pick up passengers before continuing.

Security and construction operations

As it is simple to tailgate a person without the proper security credentials, lifts are typically a very inadequate security measure. However, lifts can be used to encourage building occupants to comply with operational regulations.

Integration of lifts with access control or turnstiles can define a user’s primary lift journey, making it easy for them to take their most frequent journey and restricting their access to other building floors, such as other tenants’ floors.

In a building with turnstiles and destination-controlled lifts, for instance, a swipe card programmed with the user’s floor of employment would grant access to the authorized areas of the building. Their card grants them access to the building upon arrival, and when they pass through the turnstiles, it not only grants them access but also notifies the lifts of their arrival and calls a lift to take them to their floor contactless.

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